drink this in
Innovative Houston couple designs wine-cooling device
Great inventions reveal their value within due course, but there are those creations that tell their worth almost immediately, with a first look, image, or mere mention.
The Cold Cork, a malleable pouring device that instantly chills wine and spirits, falls into that category.
It seems like such a simple idea, but that’s the thing about inventions, isn’t it? Anyone can come up with an idea, but it’s the ones that can execute that idea that make it to the finish line and etch their names in the annals of creative glory.
“I had come home from the grocery store, right at the onset of COVID, and I wanted to have a glass of wine that I bought, but it was already room temperature, and I didn't want to put ice in it,” says wine-lover and former healthcare worker Michelle Kurkiewicz. “So, we started doing some research and came up with the idea for Cold Cork.”
Timing is everything, and because the nationwide pause caused by the COVID-19 pandemic offered Michelle, 33, and her husband Tyler, 30, plenty of free time, the dutiful duo was able to flesh out their labor of love.
Tyler and Michelle Kurkiewicz came up with the idea of the Cold Cork. Photo via thecoldcork.com
As it turns out, Tyler, a mechanical engineer by trade, had recently purchased a 3D printer back in January 2020, so he was able to use it to build hundreds of prototypes in-house to eventually arrive at a final design, which is based on the couple’s wedding champagne flutes.
So how does the Cold Cork work? Picture this: the wine-lover takes the Cold Cork out of the freezer (after a recommended 24 hours to thoroughly freeze), places it on top of the open bottle of wine and begins to pour.
As the liquid funnels through the stainless-steel coil, which is surrounded by a proprietary, food-grade cooling medium, the wine or spirits is chilled by 20 degrees in just 20 seconds.
To achieve the best results for red wine, pour the entire bottle through the Cold Cork into a decanter and enjoy.
And the best part? Not one part of the Cold Cork’s signature process alters the taste or composition of the drink in any way.
The device, priced at $64.95, chills liquids 20 degrees in 20 seconds. Photo via thecoldcork.com
“At first, we thought about whether the product should be inside the bottle or outside the bottle,” remembers Tyler. “But we quickly realized that there’s simply not enough room to do that amount of chilling inside a bottle. And we didn't want to have to pour any wine out. But we needed to make space to put some sort of chiller in the bottle. And so, we immediately started looking outside the bottle, and just with all the other wine gadgets, being bottle-topped and plugging in with a rubber stopper, that's immediately the direction we sort of drifted to.”
According to Tyler, the first couple of prototypes were made of a 3D filament. Initially, the idea was to focus on creating a cooling gel to compliment the coil, but that got a bit messy and, of course, there were too many wine taste-testing sessions to count.
“We definitely went through a lot of bottles of wine,” says Michelle. “But one of the first people that used our product was a sommelier and she loved it. We also gave one of our first production-level prototypes to a friend who is a manager at a restaurant. She used it on several occasions and said it was perfect for what she needed and seeing our product be used at a place that we frequented was extremely validating.”
Armed with the validation they needed to go to production, the wine-loving public could now have the product they needed to keep from having to throw all their wine in the refrigerator.
“The Cold Cork is really good for the people that maybe don't have those multi-zone fridges,” says Michelle. “We found a good niche with entry-level wine drinkers that don't have a wine fridge, but they want to drink their white wines still without being over-drank with ice cubes.
“That's really who we've been going after, and who we've seen has found a lot of value in the product. It's really the people that maybe aren't so prepared or maybe looking just for some more accessible solutions, whether it's because of the space in their apartment or financially, you know, it might be cheaper than a wine fridge. That's why we came up with the Cold Cork ourselves, because that was us, and so we kind of made a product that worked for us and found that there are a lot of people like that.”
The Cold Cork is available now and can be purchased directly from the company’s website for $64.95. In the future, more cork sizes and different colors will be offered, and more brick-and-mortar stores will carry the product. The couple pitched the idea and received investment from Trend Ventures at the 2022 Build Up Buttercup, an initiative that featured small business pitches for a select group of investors.
“We’ve gotten a lot of feedback directly from customers saying they use it a lot more than they thought,” says Michelle. “But then there are those people that are skeptical about how it works. That’s why I love to demo the Cold Cork in person.”
For a couple that met at a bar one night in downtown Houston, the Cold Cork is almost a poetic destination as a business endeavor and one that they both really relish.
“We both have our strengths, and we give each other a lot of support,” says Michelle.
“I’m very mechanically inclined, so I develop and invent, and Michelle is great with the marketing aspect and working with people to purchase the product,” adds Tyler. “In addition to the Cold Cork, we do have a couple of early projects that we are working on. I think there is a lot of opportunity with our technology to take what we have learned and fit that into different product lineups moving forward.”
Cold Cork Thermometer Test