Plum: First Look and Review

Working in the appliance industry has given me a fair amount of insight on specialized equipment available that people may not know about in their day to day lives. Examples such as wall ovens that have incorporated steam into their cooking process or laundry sets that learn what material of clothing you have washed, and even an automatic, on demand, coffee brewer that can start any day off right. Having the ability to have freshly ground, piping hot coffee ready at a moments notice is a luxury that is becoming more normal in the home. While having a hot cup of joe from your kitchen first thing in the morning is all well and good, why not expect that same convenience when it comes to dinner time beverages? 

I want to be upfront here. I am not a wine person. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I have always been a beer person, what with all the local breweries around. For some reason the local wines have just passed me by. So, while I understand the technicalities of the Plum wine preservation unit, its true potential was lost on my minimal understanding of wine. Luckily, one of my great co-workers is a total wine head and was able to assist me in assessing the wine that came out of the Plum. More on that later.

So, what is Plum?

CEO David Koretzs’ vision was to create an intelligent but functional wine dispenser that exceeded expectations when it came to not only drinking the wine but preserving it as well.

Preservation issues with wine can be attributed to many factors but the main factor is the cork. Improper storage can result in a dry cork. A dry cork can crumble when trying to remove it, leaving bits of cork in your wine. A dry cork can also begin to loosen in the neck of the bottle allowing air to enter into the bottle, oxidizing the wine. When the cork is fully removed, the wine begins the oxidizing process as well.

When a wine oxidizes (I had to look this up, again, I am not a wine enthusiast) it will impart off aromas like “pennies” or vinegar. The wine itself will begin to take on a brownish hue. This is the same process that happens to a cut apple or avocado turning brown.The wine may also taste a little “flat”, loosing the body and mouth feel of a nice wine. Now, the process of making wine, in itself a form of oxidation, albeit a controlled one. This is what we want to do. Control the process to make a bottle of wine that we may drink a glass or two out of, last longer.

Image result for oxidized apple
Apple showing half oxidized flesh

With that in mind, the team behind Plum had to rethink the dispensing process and find a way to pour wine through their system without removing the cork, which is part of what makes this system so unique. With an integrated, refillable argon gas canister, the system is proven to be able to preserve up to 150 bottles before needing to be replaced by a new cartridge. I want to point out here that hearing the word “gas” about something that you are going to consume sounds a lot scarier than it is. Argon gas has been used for a long time to preserve canned and packaged items as well as in the wine making processs to create a barrier to block oxygen from causing the wine to spoil or oxidize. Again, we are controlling the process. Argon gas is non toxic and is already in the air your breathe, at about 1%. It is also an environmentally safe gas that will do no harm.

Even more impressive is that the Plum works with any normal sized, 750ml bottle of wine, with any closure, including cork, engineered cork, artificial cork and even metal screw caps. Once your bottle is secured within the cradle in the Plum, a needle will penetrate the cork once the door is closed. The system will photograph the label on the bottle and then conduct an internet search to find the recommended temperature for the specific wine that you have inserted in each cooling chamber, so for example, you can have Chardonnay at 48 degrees in the left cradle and Cabernet at 66 degrees in the right. When you are ready to pour, Plum’s 7-inch, full-color touchscreen lights up as you approach, displaying the wine labels and letting you serve a glass in single ounce increments or just a preset full glass pour of five ounces or your own customizable amount.

Now, having tried wine from the Plum, I can say it tasted good. But, what is my opinion worth? Not much, which is where my co-worker came in. He thought that the red tasted perfect and the white, he thought was a little to warm for his taste, being held at 54 degrees. So, that being said, we adjusted the temperature in that cradle to 50 degrees to address that concern. The wine itself though? Full bodied and still perfectly drinkable after being in the Plum for over 2 weeks. Needless to say we were very impressed.

How does the process work?:

  • Step 1: Select your wine bottle
  • Step 2: Open the door and insert the bottle into a chamber with the cork facing downward and the label facing upward (do not remove the cork)
  • Step 3: The Plum will automatically press the bottle of wine forward using a spring assisted piston and safely push the cork onto the stainless steel needle until it has reached the wine within
  • Step 4: Plum then takes a picture of the label and uses that as the icon on the LCD screen of the door to indicate what vintage is currently in use.
  • Step 5: When connected to WIFI, Plum will search the internet for the vineyard the wine came from and download its history, specific blend and preset the chamber to the preferred temperature for that specific blend.
  • Step 6: POUR AND ENJOY!
Plum introduction video

What makes Plum really stand out of the crowd is their attention to detail from a design point of view. The molded stainless steel outer shell blends seamlessly to the smooth front control panel that operates on the door, every component on this machine is thoughtful in their purpose and physical makeup. From the spout that pours the wine or the needle that is inserted to the bottle to even the springs which help secure the bottle onto the needle, every component is made with the utmost quality and precision to ensure that the experience of the technology was met with the robust yet elegant build of the physical container. With the Plum being able to sit on a countertop or be mounted into a wall cabinet with the help of a  trim kit, there are multiple ways to show it off in your home and create an everlasting experience for any get together no matter the event.

Plum built-in to a cabinet with optional trim kit

Metropolitan Appliance is one of the first stores in Seattle to carry this and we would love for you to stop by and try some wine out of it. We won’t tell you how long the wine has been in there and you will never be able to guess its age.

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