A Better Wine Bottle

During this holiday season, someone, somewhere, is going to pour a glass of red wine and spill a few drops. And there goes grandma’s prized tablecloth.

Spillage is the bane of every oenophile’s existence. To prevent drips, sommeliers wrap the end of the wine bottle in a napkin and give the bottle a twist after pouring. But most of us can only stand aghast when the pour goes awry.

Enter Brandeis biophysicist Daniel Perlman, longtime wine lover and prolific inventor. Along with K.C. Hayes, professor emeritus of biology, he developed the “healthy fats” in Smart Balance spread. Perlman holds more than 100 patents for inventions, from specialized lab equipment to the first miniaturized home radon detector.

There are already products on the market designed to prevent wine spillage, but they involve inserting a device into the bottle neck. Figure out the physics, Perlman thought, and you could eliminate dripping forever, without additional equipment.

When you pour a nearly full bottle, not all of the liquid flows straight downward into the glass. A small amount of liquid curls underneath the lip and slides down the side of the bottle. This is because glass is hydrophilic — it has a natural tendency to attract just enough liquid so that a small amount gets redirected from the stream of wine going into the glass.

Perlman’s bottle is designed to prevent this escape. He is talking with bottle manufacturers about adopting his design. He is also further refining it — right now drips still happen, though less frequently and in smaller amounts than they do with the standard bottle.

The wine bottle design we have today has been around for centuries. It might be time to toast a change.