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We Talked to the Inventor of the 'Magic Wand' That Makes Wine Hangovers Disappear

We spoke to the makers of 'The Wand' about hangovers, the sulfites controversy, and how this product might change the way we drink.

Ah, a good bottle of wine! The subtle notes and silky mouthfeel! The body and the tannins! The pounding headache and puffy, red skin upon waking the next morning. For millions of wine drinkers, there is no enjoyment of a glass in the present without anticipating the sluggishness that will inevitably set in overnight.

But one company says that it has invented a way to savor your wine and skip the side effects. PureWine says its small device known as "The Wand"—which looks like a cross between a key and a fly swatter—is all it takes to say goodbye to your morning-after misery and cheers to popping open a bottle. You just swish it around in your merlot, and it claims to literally suck the hangover out of your vino.

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Is it too good to be true? We spoke with PureWine's Andrea Barter about hangovers, the sulfites controversy, and how she thinks their product will change the way we drink.

Hi, Andrea. So, what exactly is The Wand? The Wand is essentially the Brita water filter of wine. It sweeps the sulfite preservatives and histamines out of wine, and makes it possible for people with sulfite allergies or a histamine intolerance to really enjoy wine again without experiencing some very common side effects.

By side effects, do you mean a hangover? We're talking skin flush, headaches, foggy thinking in the morning. That realization of, "Hey, I only had two glasses of wine last night, and I still feel kind of crappy!" Or even right after you drink the wine, for some people. The Wand alleviates all of that.

You mentioned sulfites as one of the problems in wine. The science surrounding sulfite allergies has proven murky, similar to that of gluten intolerance. Is sulfite sensitivity real? About 1 percent of the general population are genuinely allergic to sulfites. They have an immediate reaction upon ingesting them via their wine that they might not experience when eating sulfites in food. In foods like dried apricots or beef jerky, the sulfites have already reacted to the surface of the food to preserve it, so they're immobile. Their job is done. But in wine, sulfites exist in a suspended state because they haven't been oxidized yet. They float around, preserving the color and flavor of the wine as oxygen enters the bottle very slowly through the cork. These suspended state sulfites can interact with your body, causing an allergic reaction.

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One percent? So is the gluten-intolerance analogy is an accurate one? One percent of people may have an immediate reaction to sulfites, but they are still a nuisance for millions of others. Just like a large number of people who avoid gluten because they believe it's bad for you, or they have a mild reaction to it, people are becoming aware of how sulfites make them feel.

Are whites and reds created equally when it comes to making us feel like hell the next day? Whites are the main culprit when it comes to sulfites. They're lighter in color and more delicate in general, so they require more preservatives. Sweet whites in particular have the absolute highest amount of preservatives.

Histamines, on the other hand, are more prevalent in red wines. Imagine getting stung by a bee. Your body goes into fight or flight mode. You turn red and itchy, and swell up as the histamines build in your system. Your body has to fight them. There are people who have to take an antihistamine in order to drink red wine because they've built up an intolerance to them over time. While you might have been able to drink a bottle of red in your mid-twenties, it becomes a much bigger nuisance in terms of side effects in your thirties and forties.

So how do you use the thing? Each wand comes individually wrapped in a BPA-free, FDA-compliant, made-in-the-USA package with the instructions right on the packaging. You remove the wand, and steep it right in your wine for a minimum of three minutes, and then just give it a swirl.

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The wand itself looks kind of like a tea bag built into a key, and it acts like a filter using ionic exchange resin beads that operate using nano-pour technology to pull things out of the wine. It's not putting anything weird into your wine. It's just removing the stuff that's going to be bothersome. You're getting a cleaner wine, that's even aerated as if you had decanted it for 30 minutes.

Image courtesy of PureWine.

Image courtesy of PureWine.

Do I need a new wand for each glass of wine? We recommend a new wand for each 6 oz. glass of wine. It will lose its efficacy after that. But we're in the process of creating a new filtration spout that will be able to filter an entire bottle.

You're essentially trying to change wine-drinking behavior with The Wand. And it sounds like you're succeeding, since The Wand is even being offered in fancy wine bars and restaurants. How does that work? You order a glass of wine [laughs], and then your bartender or sommelier might talk to you a bit about The Wand. It's an additional spend for the consumer—call it three or four dollars—but you get the pleasure of knowing you won't feel awful the next day. We want to make it possible for people to really enjoy their wine, but also enjoy tomorrow morning.

So stone-faced sommeliers aren't icing you out? You're not finding the wine community to be resistant to this? Actually, no! The resistance is just from fine-dining restaurants that want a mechanism to use on an entire bottle. In terms of reception to the product, people see it as a benefit. We're attracting people back into wine who might have otherwise had to give it up.

Finally, what are you drinking after work tonight? I love red wine! Lighter reds. Pinot noir, malbecs, occasionally a [cabernet]. But tonight, probably a lighter red.

Thanks for talking with us.