Drinking wine at the right temperature is a necessity but many get it wrong even in the restaurant trade let alone at home. There is a myth that red wine should be served at room temperature, only that the room temperature is way too warm for your favourite glass of red wine. And even white wines are often over chilled when coming out of the refrigerator.
Steve Parker, the creator of Kelvin has come up with a brilliant idea to serve wines always at their ideal temperature. We recently caught up with this UK based company to learn more about the product and also to raise awareness about serving wine at the right temperature, particularly since this is a mistake we have often encountered even in restaurants.
Steve, the inventor used to live above a Majestic wine shop in the UK for a short period and became a regular customer and would often get recommendations from the manager for a particular wine. One day, he was recommended a particular Chardonnay from the manager, but having drunk the wine Steve did not particularly like it.
When speaking with the manager later Steve was asked if he had enjoyed the Chardonnay, but Steve admitted that actually he hadn’t really liked it and probably wouldn’t buy it again.
The manager was surprised as this was one of their most popular wines. He immediately said to Steve “at what temperature did you serve it?” Steve’s gave his stock reply “Well I do what I always do with white wines, I left it in the fridge until it was really cold then I served it.”
“Ahh there potentially lies the problem” explained the manager. “A chardonnay is a full white wine which contains some complex flavours and aromas which are completly muted when the wine is too cold, this particular wine should be served around 12 degrees which is about 6 or 7 degrees higher than most peoples fridges.”
Steve’s immediate response was “ok but how does the average wine drinker monitor and measure the temperature of wine when most people only have room temperature and fridge temperature to serve at?’
It was at that moment that he had the insight that this was maybe a problem affecting many other wine drinkers, and maybe they too were not getting the best experience from drinking their wine if its temperature was not at the optimum.
Steve told Food and Wine Gazette that “temperature makes a big difference to many things, for example 16 degrees is the temperature it is suggested a medium red should be served at, yet potentially is a life threatening temperature for a vulnerable person to live in as this could lead to serious health complications. Ironically 21 degrees is recommended by the NHS (National Health Service here in England) as a suitable safe room temperature, yet most people serve their red wines at room temperature that can make them flabby and over powering on the palate.”
He said the temperature is just a reference point, after all it is just a number on a scale…but what do these numbers actually mean? And what is the real effect temperature has when serving wine?
“Wine is a fabulously emotive drink, which is probably why it’s the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world with over 31 billion bottles being consumed every year. Wine is made up from a range of different elements which all work together to give the wine its characteristics. Terms such as aroma, body, alcohol, acidity and tannins are often referred to when describing a wine, yet all of these are affected when the wine is served at different temperatures. For instance in the example of the Chardonnay above, when too cold the body of the wine is lost, it becomes thinner and watery. The fruit in the wine is muted which leads to a less than tantalising aroma and the overall flavour will be diminished. The same is true of red wines that for the most part are served too warm. In this situation the body of the wine can be excessive and the alcohol content can be over powering. The complex tannins that are found in red wines are also affected by serving temperature by appearing bitter or unfocused,” Steve said.
When a wine is served at its recommended temperature all of the elements of the wine become balanced and in harmony and the drinker can get the full potential of the wine.
Kelvin teaches the wine drinker at what temperature it is recommended to serve a particular wine at.
What is unique about the product I ask Steve. “Wine thermometers have been around for some time, so what’s the big deal I hear you cry? Kelvin is in the only patented wireless wine thermometer on the market with a colour changing display and built in wine categories with recommended serving temperatures. It is also the only product with an insulated construction and super thermal transfer pad to accurately measure the temperature from inside a fridge. However, Kelvin is more about education and enhancing the feeling you get when you drink wine. Our goal is to stimulate your curiosity to try different wines at their recommended serving temperatures and see if you can experience the difference when drinking wines at the temperatures recommended by the wine producers themselves. Simply sticking a mercury thermometer into your bottle of wine could do this for you, but the experience is somewhat different.”
The company has a range of products on the drawing board, though they cannot mention them for commercial reasons. “But we have been showing our distributors the Kelvin APP and Bluetooth version which is coming in 2016. We also have another product which is really exciting set for late 2016 early 2017 which will cater for the ‘immediate’ nature of the modern consumer.”
The company has been approached to cater for other drinks. “We didn’t realise that beer serving temperatures are also very important in the home brewing market, and even different vodkas should be served at varying temperatures. Our mind is always open to new ideas so maybe a diversification might come in the future.”
The process to create the equipment took the company around a year. “We are a small company with limited resources so we have to develop our ideas organically in line with our cash flow. Of course we’d love to make products more quickly but one has to be realistic about these things. Of course if there is an Angel investor out there with deeper pockets than ours we’d be happy to talk.”
- 10 wine categories are included; simply select the type of wine you are drinking and the target recommended temperature would be displayed.
- Place the transmitter clip on to the bottle and wait for the display to change to green.
- We use colour to show simply the status of temperature, Blue: too cold, Red: too warm and Green just right.
- The transmitter clip is wireless so the bottle can be placed in the fridge allowing the drinker to watch the display for an indication of when the wine is good to go.
Where can you buy it?
The product is available on www.mykelvin.co.uk where you will find links to other online retailers such as Amazon. Soon we will be featured on television shopping channels and feature on other mainstream retailers websites in the lead up until Christmas.
How do you go about product design and innovation?
We are a UK based team who develop the ideas. We use a UK based industrial designer who works with us regarding the form and function of our products. For the Kelvin Duo we used the electronic design teams from our manufacturing partner who is based in China, however for some items we may develop APPs and software in Europe ourselves.
Wine is a very old and traditional sector. What other innovations do you see coming up in future?
We are investing our time in APP based technology and access to data which will enhance the wine drinking experience. Providing customers with more information about wine allows them to make educated choices about the wine they drink, but also then by extending that with information regarding serving temperature, aeration (or not), glassware and food pairing is also really helpful for the average wine drinker.
We also think there is a need for education in commercial outlets. Ok top class restaurants have sommeliers that know their stuff, but what about chains and small independent restaurants who serve wine as part of the meal. Serving wine incorrectly can be really off putting for a customer who knows what they want, and worse still is the ignorance many staff have on the subject. Who ever asks for a ice bucket for a red wine in a restaurant? I know I have, sometimes with an interesting retort from the serving staff. Funnily enough this may influence my decision whether to return to that restaurant in the future.
How do you take a product like Kelvin from concept to market?
The idea is first, however we always say that an idea is worthless without the passion and drive to make it into something.
As mentioned above we work with UK designers to get a ‘European’ feel for our products. Due to economies of scale the electronic design, tooling and production is done offshore, however we would like to change that in the future if possible.
We can export the product from our HK office for worldwide markets, or bring the stock into our UK warehouse for local supply. As a UK business we already have relationships with some of the biggest retailers and will present the product for inclusion in their lines going forward.
We will also embark on a marketing campaign to raise awareness for the product, which will be a combination for traditional PR coupled with social media activity, PPC and SEO.
Warranty and customer support will operate from our UK office.
Over time we wish to build a relationship with our customers who we hope will enjoy and benefit from our products, telling their friends and of course buying our wonderful new models in the future.
What are your targets with Kelvin?
We aim to launch the product in the UK during 2015.
Given the interest generated at some recent trade exhibitions in Vegas (CES) and Hong Kong (Consumer Electronics Show) we are already starting to pick up distributors in worldwide locations who wish to represent Kelvin in their region.
Obviously we see the USA as a prime market as wine production and consumption is firmly rooted in the country, however China is becoming one of the fastest growing areas for the consumption of wine, and we have been really surprised by our Japanese distributor who loves this product concept.
Of course traditional wine areas such as France, Spain and Italy will be targeted, however we must say that the consumption of wine is globally universal…apart from a few ‘dry’ countries the majority of people we speak to drink wine and enjoy it!