Sep 27, 2023

Houston startup wants to chill your wine in 20 seconds

This is a carousel. Use Next and Previous buttons to navigate

The inventors of Cold Cork say it can cool your wine by about 20 degrees as you pour it through the device.

Tyler and Michelle Kurkiewicz said they began working on Cold Cork during the pandemic.

Summer is upon us and Houston entrepreneurs Tyler and Michelle Kurkiewicz want to stop you from chilling your glass of wine with an ice cube.

They've invented the Cold Cork, which chills wine or spirits as it pours, bringing a glass of red to cellar temperature in seconds, without that ice cube diluting your drink.

"You're essentially running your wine through a big ice luge," said Michelle while showing the sleek black device on a Zoom call.

Inside the Cold Cork, which retails for about $65, is a stainless steel coil surrounded by a salt-based gel that cools when placed in the freezer. When it's ready to be used, the stem of the device is inserted into the bottle. When poured, the wine or booze flows through the coil, reducing its temperature by some 20 degrees as it pours. It shouldn't be used with water or carbonated beverages because both could freeze in the narrow coils.

Related: 5 Texas wines worth drinking all summer long, from Napa-style to organic bottles

The couple bought a 3D printer in January 2020, several months after they were married. Tyler, 30, they said, is a lifelong tinkerer as well as a mechanical engineer. Then came March 2020, when the pandemic's impending lockdowns spurred a trip to stock up on groceries.

"We came home with all this room-temperature wine, and I wanted a glass," Michelle, 33, explained. "I didn't want to put ice in my wine. I didn't want to wait hours to chill a bottle in the fridge. That's how the idea came about."

Experimentation began. One consideration was the size of the device: Wine bottles have narrow necks, and you'd have to pour out some of the contents first if you wanted to put a cooling device in the bottle itself. Materials were another: They considered an aluminum coil, but concluded that stainless steel offered better resistance to corrosion.

Early iterations of the product were "ugly," Tyler recalled with a laugh. Messy, too. The 3D printer produces objects in layers, which were not, as it turned out, leak-proof. But the proof of concept was there, he said, and after several hundred prototypes, so was the design. The Cold Cork's belled shape, the Kurkiewiczs said, is based on the champagne flutes they used at their wedding.

Starting a business was not necessarily the goal, Michelle said, but as she started doing research, she saw an opportunity in the market. There are plenty of devices that pledge to chill wine in 15 minutes or so, but few that actively reduce its temperature as its poured, leaving imbibers reliant on hacks, like wrapping a wet paper towel around a bottle of wine and placing it in the freezer.

Since launching the Cold Cork in 2022, the Kurkiewiczes said they've been promoting it on social media as well hosting in-person demos. Recently, Michelle quit her job in health care to focus full-time on the business. They received about 500 orders in the first half of May as Mother's Day approached and spent several days boxing the orders for shipment.

A lot of Cold Cork's online orders come from California, Michelle said, as well as the East Coast. But the Kurkiewiczes reckon that Texans might find this product especially useful. On Friday, they were preparing to go demonstrate the product at a local wine bar. They had encouraged the owner to try the Cold Cork after noticing that she was chilling wine for tastings the old-fashioned way with the dreaded ice cube.

[email protected]