How new technology is making wine cellars smarter – Robb Report

Imagine if your entire wine cellar could be delivered to you anywhere, whether you were commuting between homes or traveling to an overseas office. Sign up for New York start-up Baxus’ new service and your precious bottles will be just a few clicks away. The company will store your favorite vintages in one of its temperature-controlled vaults and create a metaverse-based equivalent for each.

Plug in an NFT-enabled digital frame from Baxus’ partner, Metasill, and you can summon a highly detailed 3D image of your latest bottle of 2000 Petrus. Or swipe to see your 1997 Screaming Eagle instead. The frame allows you to show off your cellar anywhere and the minting of your own NFT certifies authenticity and ownership. You can also display your collection, on a smaller scale, via the Baxus web app on any smartphone.

“A lot of the collection is about flexibility,” said Baxus co-founder Todd Wiesel. Robb Report with a laugh. “You can show people a picture of a bottle on Instagram 15 times, [but] how do I know it’s yours? This means it is secure, verified and authenticated. When you want to show IRL, the company will ship bottles to you with their own refrigerated trucks locally, or they will contract out to a specialist in temperature-controlled ground transportation for wine.

LaSommeliere ECave 185

Arnaud Derouet

Baxus is just one of the companies aiming for a share of the smart wine cellar market, with one industry analyst estimating that it is likely to surpass $1 billion in value within five years. Wiesel has debuted its blockchain-enhanced cellar service for those who want convenient storage and aspire to showcase, rather than hide, their collection. “We scan each bottle individually, they are not cartoons or 3D renderings,” he promises. However, most wine NFTs can only prove authenticity, but not how, where and at what temperature they were stored. Smart thermostats in Baxus vaults monitor the status of bottles and confirm their continued presence, creating a tamper-proof history of each bottle via blockchain, the ultimate digital provenance.

But there’s an obvious downside to this service: the only place you can drink your wine on a whim is in the Metaverse. If you’re prone to impulses and prefer to store your collection at home, consider a gadget like Winesor or Sensorist. These devices provide real-time humidity and temperature monitoring — via Wi-Fi-connected probes that sit in the middle of the bottles — to a smartphone app.

“I was going down [to the cellar] once a week to look at the thermometer and write it down on an Excel sheet, and I thought to myself, “There must be a better way to do this,” says Kasper Mejlgaard, inventor of the sensorist.

His resulting innovation sits in the same racks as wine; to activate, simply fill an empty bottle with water and insert the Sensorist like a cork. The device, which costs around $36, is great for gauging the change in air temperature in your new wine fridge as the compressor turns on and off. Pair one of its gadgets with a Kelvin K2 Smart Wine Thermometer for ultimate peace of mind when you’re ready to pop a cork. The device (about $47.50) straps around the neck of any bottle, and an app pings you when it hits the perfect temperature.


The Sensorist humidity and temperature monitoring device

Courtesy of Sensorist

If you want full protection, place a pre-order for Frio’s LaSommelière ECellar 185, a French-made smart fridge launching in the US next year. “We all have the same problem: we don’t know what we have, and sometimes we forget a very good bottle, we can even miss the maturity period because we store it too long”, explains Didier Grychta, CEO of the ‘company.

His device, which comes with a free subscription to the Vinotag cellar check-in app, provides a real-time update of any bottle added or removed from his shelves. The 185-bottle cabinet was introduced last summer in Europe and is expected to cost around $5,000 per unit once the company adjusts it for the US market.

Hopefully, this will prove more effective than previous options: WineCab, the company behind WineWall, a $179,000+ facility with a robot arm programmed to retrieve bottles from a temperature-controlled cabinet, appears, mysteriously, to have become inactive. Ditto Caveasy One, which launched in 2018 as the world’s first high-capacity smart wine rack with space for 1,280 bottles and doesn’t even have a website anymore. At least once you install a fridge like ECellar, it can’t go away. Right?

About Michael Brafford

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