“Free” is rarely free.
Claims to prevent wine-induced headaches and hangovers lack scientific evidence.
Ullo may have viral video publisher UNILAD to thank for boosting sales of its “wine purifier,” even as the video on the UK-based media company’s Facebook page that refers followers to Ullo’s UK website makes misleading claims about the product’s ability to prevent hangovers by removing sulfites from wine.
Because it makes for such a final disappointment, here is the whole of the text that appears in label maker-type font in the UNILAD video, which has garnered more than 20 million views, 120,000 shares, and 100,000 likes since it was posted three weeks ago:
You can now drink wine without the hangover. Ullo’s wine purifier filters out the chemicals that gives (sic) you hangovers, stopping you from suffering those awful headaches. The sulphite chemical is added during the brewing process as they help to keep the wine fresh. But once the bottle is opened these are no longer needed. Ullo filters them so you don’t suffer, meaning you can enjoy your wine … without the hangover the next day!
Yeah, about that. As Ullo acknowledges in an FAQ on its UK site: “At this time, there are no clinical trials proving this point,” namely, that removing sulfites from wine prevents headaches. What about the other symptoms of a wine-induced hangover, you ask? Any scientific evidence that Ullo helps out with those? Doesn’t look like it. As Ullo reveals in another FAQ:
Although only a small percentage of people are diagnosed with severe sulfite allergies, many wine drinkers experience negative side effects that may be attributed to sulphites.
In other words, Ullo cannot say with a degree of certainty that its device wards off any of the symptoms of a hangover by filtering out sulfites in wine (or sulphites, as Ullo can’t seem to settle on whether to use the English or the British spelling of the word in the paragraph above). And that’s … a bummer.
Ullo denies it had any role in making of UNILAD video
In response to an inquiry Ullo’s inventor and CEO James Kornacki said the company had nothing to do with the UNILAD video, despite the fact that UNILAD gives “all credit” to Ullo in a comment on the post. “[W]e have no association with that company or with whomever created that video,” Kornacki said in an email. “We had no involvement or input into its creation, and we do not endorse or promote it.”
But Kornacki didn’t seemed too worried as he failed to respond to a series of follow-up questions, including one that asked if he would take steps to remove the UNILAD video promoting Ullo with misleading claims. (UNILAD, whose status as the most-watched video publisher on Facebook makes it popular with advertisers looking to reach millennials with branded content, did not respond to a TINA.org request for comment.) Moreover, in addition to claiming Ullo “restores the natural taste of wine,” the company has itself marketed Ullo as a hangover-prevention method, with Kornacki leading the way.
In September 2016, when Kornacki was still raising money for a U.S. launch that would happen later that year, he appeared on a daytime talk show in his hometown of Chicago. As the conversation turned to his product’s purported ability to decrease headaches by removing sulfites — “We thought the headaches were coming from too many glasses of wine,” said the host — Kornacki claimed that wine drinkers could imbibe “a little more” with Ullo.
More recently, Ullo has used hashtags on Instagram like #headachefree and #HangoverFreeZone (see below) to broadcast the unsupported message that it staves off the symptoms of a wine-related hangover.
Even if you are part of the estimated one percent of the population that is sulfite-sensitive, you should know that many wine experts have called BS on claims that sulfites cause headaches or hangovers. The reality is sulfites occur in many common foods, including some baked goods, dried fruit, certain fish and lemon juice. The reason you see “contains sulfites” on bottles of wine is simply due to U.S. labeling laws.
So, if you’re fine with the taste of wine straight from the bottle, your best bet at avoiding a headache or hangover may be just to stay hydrated throughout the night or — gasp — drink less wine. For one thing, you’ll save $79.99, the starting price for Ullo.
Find more of our coverage on alcohol here.