Smartcorq is a patented new device that will bring high-tech change to the wine biz. Each of these synthetic corks contains a rice-sized microchip on which the winery can store all kinds of information. Retailers and consumers can scan the chip via radio frequencies with an RFID-enabled cell phone, including late-model Nokias. Hold the phone near the bottle (or even an unopened case) and you can learn the vintage, the grapes in the blend, the tasting notes, the estimated best time to drink it, notes on the vintage and suggested food pairings—whatever the winery chooses to encode. The first wine to employ these Italian-designed corks is Arnaldo Caprai’s 2003 Contemporare, a modern-styled 100 percent Sangiovese.
“Our first priority is the consumer,” says winemaker Marco Caprai, explaining how the chip idea came about. Caprai wants to “connect the consumer to the product, and give the consumer a guarantee of the quality of the product.”
The first Smartcorq bottles have just been released in Italy; they are scheduled to be on U.S. shelves this spring. Smartcorq could ultimately replace the barcode and simplify tedious tasks, like taking inventory. Future versions may be able to record and report even more important information, including a history of the temperatures a bottle has been exposed to—vital data for anyone purchasing older wines.