Not long ago, I wrote about being done with writing about the Vacu-vin wine preservation gizmo. Then, a couple of nights ago, I caught someone trying to get some funding for his wine preservation gizmo from “The Sharks” on ABC television’s program that marries inventors and investors.
Inventor Eric Corti was trying to secure some capital, possibly just some free advertising, for his Wine Balloon from TVs Sharks.
Back in April, last year, Martin left a comment to my “Friends don’t let friends Vacu-Vin” piece:

Thanks John, good read.

I too have purchased a Vacu Vin and have had so so results. Cnet.com had an article this month under their “gadgets” section about a thing called a Wine Balloon. So for a few bucks I ordered one as the idea is similar to the floating disk. The balloon sealed the bottle for three days. When I went back for a glass I still tasted subtleties of the wine with no apparent residual effect from the balloon, it worked pretty well. Was wondering if you’ve heard or tried it?

To which I replied:
Funny Martin, but I have always thought that a balloon was the ideal wine preservation concept, but was concerned that a chemical, rubber, or plastic aroma or flavor might be imparted to the wine. It is interesting to see that someone is using the idea to seeming good effect. Thanks for sharing the news. -John
Okay, I’m back on a topic I said I was done with, but for wine geeks, the science of wine preservation is as big a deal as whether Kirk or Picard is the better Star Fleet Captain is to Trekkies – or Trekkers for those that care.
Eric was seeking $40,000 for a 30% stake in his business. One Shark, Kevin, offered Eric $40,000 for 30% if the product was pitched to Vacu-vin for a royalty deal. Another shark, Lori, offered to buy him out completely for $500,000; Mark Cuban joined Lori raising the offer to $600,000 but required an instant yes. Eric countered, asking for $600,000 and a 3% royalty. The Sharks played hardball, and the offer dropped back to $500,000 and then $400,000 before Eric seemed to accept that diminished offer.
Today, on Eric’s website blog, I read:

We’re still in control of the company. Cooler heads prevailed. Thanks for your comments and support of the Wine Balloon

We are still in touch with the Sharks. You never know what will happen down the road.

and

I was a total mad-house in there as you sure witnessed.
We have NOT sold the company and cooler heads prevailed. Please don’t boycott the Wine Balloon. We still own it.
Were in contact with the Sharks, and that was the ultimate goal. If you bail and walk, you have zero contact with them later on.

I have written that the Vacu-vin sucks (literally and figuratively), and although I use Nitrogen at work, I thought a balloon to be a great wine preservation gizmo for home use if the balloon didn’t impart weird rubbery chemical off notes to the wine.

According to the Wine Balloon’s FAQ page, “The balloon is manufactured in the United States of a Natural Rubber Latex (biobased elastomer) material.  All ingredients in the balloon meet U.S. FDA Standards for food contact – (FDA 177.26),” and, “Wine Balloon will not alter the taste of your wine.”

The product is simplicity itself. After opening a wine bottle and pouring a glass or two, a washable balloon at one end of a tube is inserted into the wine bottle until it contacts the surface of the remaining wine, a grape cluster shaped squeeze pump on the other end of the tube is squeezed inflating the balloon and the remaining wine is effectively protected from the harmful effects of oxidation without the stripping away of aroma that comes with other more famous wine preservation gizmos.

Of greater note, this is the first wine preservation gizmo that allows a user the opportunity to see that the product is functioning. Vacuum pumps leave invisible Oxygen while pressurized cans pump invisible Nitrogen into the bottle. Where faith was required in the past while much has been written about the lack of efficacy some of these wine preservation systems offer, the Wine Balloon is remarkable for leaving no question as to whether it works or not.

At $22, with additional replacement balloons available affordably, the Wine Balloon is a solid, easily recommendable product for home use by many wine drinkers.

I know of many people who live alone, want just one or two glasses, can open a bottle now and thanks to the Wine Balloon will be able to come back to the bottle days later and finish the bottle without a loss of aroma or flavor.

In fairness, the product needs a slight modification to make it more useful in my house, or any home where multiple bottles are open at the same time. With Wine Balloon, you need one system for each bottle open, and at $22 per unit, that would run over $100 in Wine Balloons in constant use at my house. That is why I use Nitrogen both at work with 12 bottles of wine open and home where I have 6 bottles open.

I’m not really who this gizmo was made for, but I am happy to point friends at it, and more happy that Eric appears to have not taken the Sharks money but instead taken advantage of the opportunity to market his product directly to millions of viewers.

Good luck Eric and Wine Balloon.