One of the worst things about opening a bottle of wine and not finishing it – aside from the lack of drunkenness – is the shortened shelf-life that bottle now has. Once air hits the wine, oxidation kicks in and at first may allow the beverage to open up but will eventually cause the wine to go bad.
That is the main problem driving wine startup Plum, a company that’s created and patented a smart wine serving appliance (aka a fancy keg for wine) that preserves a bottle of wine for 90 days, allowing single serving pours for up to three months. Plum has just raised a Series A round of $9 million and plans to ship pre-ordered systems this fall. Similar attempts have been made to create devices to make serving beer more enjoyable and close to an “on-tap” experience but Plum claims to have the first appliance that “automatically preserves, chills and serves wine by the glass” in the home market.
Plum has several unique features and requires very little of the consumer to get started. Place a 750 mL bottle of wine into the appliance’s chamber and close the door. The machine’s specialized (and patent-pending) needle will pierce whatever material surrounds the bottle’s opening and extract wine while also injecting argon gas to prevent oxidation.
The appliance is pretty high-tech too: with built-in cameras along with a cloud database of over 6 million wines, Plum will read the wine label and identify on the touchscreen what bottle is inside. The company claims the device is able to accurately identify wine’s 95% of the time. Plum is a good example of the growth in the use of cameras inside cooking and storage appliances paired with cloud intelligence to enhance the consumer experience with food and beverages.
The machine also chills the wine based on the varietal but can be manually adjusted by the user. And the life of the argon gas chamber is up to 200 bottles (refills are $29) so Plum’s initial longevity can be pretty long, depending on your individual drinking habits. The price of Plum’s smart wine appliance isn’t cheap – one system will set you back $1499 and the company is still taking preorders with plans to ship in “fall 2017.”
The $9 million investment, led by Khosla Ventures (Hampton Creek, InstaCart, Consumer Physics) and Las Olas Venture Capital along with other angel investors from the tech, wine and hospitality markets. The company says the investment will be used to take the smart appliance to the hospitality industry, allowing hotels to put Plum in guest rooms to deliver a better “mini-bar” experience and adding another in-room revenue source. Plum has already inked deals with big hotel chains including Four Seasons, Hilton, Marriott and the Hyatt among others.