Title:
WINE STORAGE AND PRESERVATION CABINET
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for the storage of multiple bottles of wine including an open wine container therein. The device includes a purging station for the introduction of inert or heavier thin air gas to the open wine container and an actuator for selectively introducing the heavier than air gas to the open wine container. The device further includes a cabinet having a top, bottom, sides and back creating a space for housing a plurality of wine containers in an upright orientation and a door having an open window to enable one to view at least the open wine container while the door is closed.



Inventors:
Luzaich, Gregory John (Windsor, CA, US)
Lerner, Michael Jeffrey (Santa Rosa, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/125697
Publication Date:
11/27/2008
Filing Date:
05/22/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65B31/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHIU, RALEIGH W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GREGORY LUZAICH (WINDSOR, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A device for the storage of multiple bottles of wine including an opened wine container therein comprising an air purging station for the introduction of inert, heavier then air gas to said open wine container and an actuator for selectively introducing said heavier than air inert gas to said open wine container, said device comprising a cabinet having a top, bottom, sides and a back creating a space for housing a plurality of wine containers in an upright orientation, said open wine contain being positioned at said purging station, said purging station comprising a poppet valve assembly including a valve body for insertion within an opening in said open wine container and biased to enable said device to accommodate open wine containers of varying sizes, a pressurized source of heavier-than-air inert gas located within said housing, a regulator for reducing the pressure of said inert gas from a first pressure at said pressurized source of heavier-than-air inert gas to a second pressure that passes through a low pass port within said poppet valve assembly, said poppet valve assembly comprising a valve body, a low pass port, a spring-loaded check ball being spring biased to close said low pass port, a shuttle slidable within said valve body and orifice wherein said spring loaded check ball is biased to close said low pass port to facilitate increasing pressure within said low pass port until said pressure is sufficient to cause said shuttle to rise upwards within said valve body thus being displaced from said open wine container whereupon as said shuttle rises, air contained within said open wine container is freed to exit proximate the bottle top while increasing pressure in said low pass port unseats said check ball from blocking said low pass port within said shuttle for enabling the heavier-than-air inert gas to enter said wine container displacing air that had been in said bottle and upon interrupting the flow of said heavier-than-air inert gas, forcing said shuttle by spring bias against said open wine container sealing said open wine container to substantially prevent said heavier-than-air inert gas from escaping therefrom.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein said opened wine container comprises an opened wine bottle containing liquid wine and an air space there above.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein said device further comprises cooling means for controllably heating or cooling said opened wine container in said cabinet.

4. The device of claim 3 wherein said cooling means comprises a thermoelectric cooler.

5. The device of claim 1 wherein said valve body is perforated to facilitate the passage of air there through.

6. The device of claim 1 wherein said actuator is accessible from a position inside said cabinet.

7. The device of claim 1 wherein said pressurized source of heavier-than-air inert gas comprises a gas cartridge replaceable within said cabinet.

8. The device of claim 7 wherein said gas cartridge is attached to said gas pressure regulator by a threaded safety barrel.

9. The device of claim 1 wherein said heavier-than-air inert gas comprises argon.

10. The device of claim 1 wherein said cabinet further comprises a door having further a transparent window for viewing said opened wine container there through.

11. The device of claim 1 wherein said poppet valve assembly is mounted on guide pins provides for vertical movement of said poppet valve assembly thereon.

12. The device of claim 11 further comprising springs mounted axially about said guide pins to bias said poppet valve assembly in the direction of said opened wine container.

13. The device of claim 1 wherein said gas pressure regulator comprises a counter-balanced spring, plenum and flow control needle.

14. The device of claim 1 wherein a flexible conduit is provided between said regulator and poppet valve assembly for carrying said heavier-than-air inert gas at a pressure of approximately 15-to-20 psi.

15. The device of claim 1 further comprising poppet exhaust ports for facilitating the exhaust of air from within said opened wine container as said heavier-than-air inert gas is introduced therein.

16. The device of claim 15 wherein said housing is provided with an exhaust vent port for venting air received from said poppet exhaust ports.

17. The device of claim 15 wherein said shuttle is spring biased such that as the heavier-than-air inert gas flow is interrupted and gas pressure is consequently eliminated from said poppet valve assembly, said shuttle is forced against said opening in said opened wine container.

18. The device of claim 17 wherein said shuttle is provided with a gasket for substantially selectively sealing said opening in said opened wine container.

19. The device of claim 18 wherein said check ball substantially prevents backflow of either air or heavier-than-air inert gas.

20. A device for the storage of multiple bottles of wine including an opened wine container therein comprising an air purging station for the introduction of inert, heavier then air gas to said open wine container and an actuator for selectively introducing said heavier than air inert gas to said open wine container, said device comprising a cabinet having a top, bottom, sides and a back creating a space for housing a plurality of wine containers, said open wine contain being positioned at said purging station.

21. The device of claim 20 wherein said opened wine container comprises an opened wine bottle containing liquid wine and an air space there above.

22. The device of claim 20 wherein said device further comprises cooling means for controllably heating or cooling said opened wine container in said cabinet.

23. The device of claim 20 wherein said actuator is accessible from a position inside said cabinet.

24. The device of claim 20 wherein said pressurized source of heavier-than-air inert gas comprises a gas cartridge replaceable within said cabinet.

25. The device of claim 20 wherein said cabinet further comprises a door having further a transparent window for viewing said opened wine container there through.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority to provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/931,945 filed on May 25, 2007.

TECHNICAL FIELD AND INVENTION

A device for the storage of multiple bottles of wine including an open wine container therein. The device includes a purging station for the introduction of inert or heavier thin air gas to the open wine container and an actuator for selectively introducing the heavier than air gas to the open wine container. The device further includes a cabinet having a top, bottom, sides and back creating a space for housing a plurality of wine containers in both upright and horizontal orientations and a door having an open window to enable one to view at least the open wine container while the door is closed.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Although the present invention will be described in terms of the preservation of wine, the invention can be extended to other food products such as coffee beans and ground coffee which similarly suffer ill effects when exposed to ambient (air) conditions.

Virtually anyone who routinely drinks wine notices that if a bottle of wine is uncorked and not completely consumed, the wine contained within the bottle changes in physical and chemical characteristics making the wine much less enjoyable to consume as time passes. This is caused by oxidation, that is, the bonding of oxygen molecules to oxidisable compounds present within the wine. Oxidation of wine results in the production of brown compounds and browning of red pigments with loss of color. It further results in the production of aldehydes and desirable grape (primary), fermentation (secondary) and aging (tertiary) derived flavors. The production of new undesirable flavor compounds can mask the desirable flavor compounds.

Such oxidisable compounds in wine include phenolics, alcohols and some flavor aldehyde compounds. Although all wines suffer from oxidation, because of the high concentration of phenolics extracted from grape skins during red wine production, red wine has a high reserve of oxidisable compounds and hence appears more sensitive to oxidative spoilage. Sulfur dioxide added to red wine loosely binds to red wine pigments decolorizing the pigment molecules and rendering a portion of the sulfur dioxide ineffective. Sulfur dioxide is also used to inhibit microbial growth and is thus an additive for use in red wines.

It has thus been recognized that it is highly desirable to limit or entirely prevent oxygen, such as that contained in ambient air, from contacting the surface of a food product, such as wine, in order to maintain the product's desirable flavor and other physical characteristics.

There have been rather rudimentary attempts to inject an inert gas in the free space of an opened wine bottle in order to displace air. There have also been syringe-like products which enable the user to withdraw air from the bottle's free space. However, prior art devices have proven to be ineffective in the flow of the inert gas to the free space above the wine and in removal of the ambient air to substantially reduce oxidation.

It is thus an object of the present invention to provide a device, through the use of a control switch that enables one to preserve food products, such as wine and coffee, from the ill effects of oxidation.

It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a device such as that described above which can not only minimize oxidation but also control the food product's temperature, a desirable expedient in preserving food for an extended duration and to maintain the food product at its proper serving temperature.

These and further objects can be more readily appreciated when considering the following disclosure and appended drawings.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A device for storage of an open wine container comprising a housing for receiving said open wine container in a substantially vertical orientation and for replacing air within the open wine container with a heavier-than-air inert gas, said device comprising a poppet valve assembly including a valve body for insertion within an opening in said open wine container and biased to enable said device to accommodate open wine containers of varying sizes, a pressurized source of heavier-than-air inert gas located within said housing, a regulator for reducing the pressure of said inert gas from a first pressure at said pressurized source of heavier-than-air inert gas to a second pressure that passes through a low pass port within said poppet valve assembly, said poppet valve assembly comprising a valve body, a low pass port, a spring-loaded check ball being spring biased to close said low pass port, a shuttle slidable within said valve body and orifice wherein said spring loaded check ball is biased to close said low pass port to facilitate increasing pressure within said low pass port until said pressure is sufficient to cause said shuttle to rise upwards within said valve body thus being displaced from said open wine container whereupon as said shuttle rises, air contained within said open wine container is freed to exit proximate the bottle top while increasing pressure in said low pass port unseating said check ball from blocking said low pass port within said shuttle for enabling the heavier-than-air inert gas to enter said wine container displacing air that had been in said bottle and upon interrupting the flow of said heavier-than-air inert gas, forcing said shuttle by spring bias against said open wine container sealing said open wine container to substantially prevent said heavier-than-air inert gas from escaping therefrom.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a storage container of the present invention having its front face removed to exhibit its interior.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the storage container of FIG. 1 without a bottle located proximate its purging station.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the storage cabinet of the present invention with its front door closed.

FIG. 4 is an expanded side cross-sectional view showing the details of the inert gas delivery system of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is an expanded side cross-sectional view showing the details of a poppet valve assembly in an open shuttle orientation.

FIG. 6 is an expanded side cross-sectional view showing the details of a poppet valve assembly in a closed shuttle orientation.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning first to FIG. 1, the present storage cabinet 10 is shown housing a typical wine container in the form of a wine bottle 12. As noted, interior 11 of cabinet 10 is large enough to house multiple wine bottles, one of which being shown as residing beneath a purging station 2 of the present invention. Actuator 6 is shown accessible to a user once door 15 (FIG. 3) has been opened. Actuator 6 is directly coupled to activation lever 22 as described more fully below.

Turning to FIG. 2, the storage cabinet 10 of FIG. 1 is shown with wine container 12 removed. As noted, purging station 2 includes down pipe 5 which is intended to reside within wine container 12 during purging. The details of purging station 20 and its internal components will be more readily appreciated in reference to FIGS. 4, 5 and 6.

FIG. 3 shows storage cabinet 10 with door 15 closed. This will be the normal orientation of the present invention during long term storage of various wine containers. When storage cabinet 10 is closed, it is preferable to provide window 8 through which wine container 12 and particularly its label are visible therethrough.

There are several iterations of the purging station 2 useful herein. Each of these is disclosed in Applicant's U.S. Pat. Nos. 7,047,762 and 7,096,677, the disclosures of which are incorporated by reference herein.

Turning to FIG. 4, the overall gas cartridge and delivery system can be best visualized. In doing so, activation lever 22 is provided in conjunction with replaceable gas cartridge 16 containing heavier-than-air inert gas. A threaded safety barrel 18 is shown attaching gas cartridge 16 to gas pressure regulator assembly 20. Poppet valve assembly 32 (FIG. 5) is displaced vertically to accommodate variations in bottle height.

Poppet valve assembly 32 essentially floats in a predetermined range to accept most wine bottle heights. To facilitate this, poppet valve assembly 32 is mounted on guide pins 42 wherein poppet valve body 76 contacts the bottle to perform compensation for varying bottle height and remains in contact with the bottle opening as long as bottle remains within this device as shown in FIG. 2. Poppet valve assembly 32 is spring-loaded by providing two springs 62 located axially about poppet valve guide pins 42.

In operation, by depressing lever 22 air valve 24 is depressed allowing high pressure gas stored in replaceable gas cartridge 16 to flow to pressure regulation chamber 92. The gas pressure regulator is composed of counter-balance spring 26, piston 28 and flow control needle 30. In combination, these elements reduce the high pressure in the range of 1000-to-2500 psi to a preferred operating pressure of approximately 15-to-20 psi. It is noted that low-pressure exits from the regulator section 92 via flexible tube 64 and port 58.

Once in flexible tube 64, the heavier-than-air inert gas is directed to poppet valve assembly 32 (FIG. 5) which, as noted sits atop neck 100 of wine bottle 1. Heavier-than-air inert gas enters poppet valve assembly 32 through low-pass port 66. A spring-loaded check ball 36 forces pressure to build in low-pass port 66 forcing shuttle 34 upward until it reaches vertical stop 68 noting that poppet valve body remains in contact with bottle 1 at all times. As the shuttle rises, access to gas exit path 72 (FIG. 5) is created at the top of the bottle. Once the shuttle hits its stop, the pressure in low-pass port 66 increases until check ball 36 is unseated. Gas then flows by check ball 36 through orifice 70 and is exhausted through nozzle 38. As noted, although shuttle 34 vertically rises upon the introduction of heavier-than-air inert gas to neck 100 of bottle 1, valve body 76, which is preferably perforated to enable air to escape from bottle 1, remains in contact with the bottle at its neck 100.

It is noted that orifice 70 causes reduction in overall gas flow rate. This reduced area orifice can be eliminated if the size of nozzle 38 is reduced in diameter. This nozzle is designed such that gas remains in a concentrated stream that disburses very little as it enters neck 100 of wine bottle 1. Once heavier-than-air inert gas confronts the liquid contained within the bottle, the gas disperses at the surface of the liquid, thus displacing air with the heavier-than-air inert gas. As the inert gas continues to inject in bottle 1 at neck 100, the surface level of the inert gas rises and eventually displaces any air which was otherwise contained within the bottle, removing the oxygen content responsible for oxidation and thus spoilage of the wine or other food product. In other words, the inert gas collects at the bottom of the free space above the liquid and pushes existing air out of bottle 1. As the inert gas is chosen to have a molecular weight higher than air, it will remain below air as the air is pushed out of the bottle. In doing so, air otherwise contained within the bottle exits the bottle through poppet exhaust port 72 and exits the housing through exhaust housing vent port 90.

Once actuator 6 is released, thus releasing lever 22 atop present device 10, gas pressure to gas pressure regulation chamber 92 is interrupted and gas pressure to poppet valve assembly 32 is eliminated and shuttle 34 is forced against mouth 101 by spring 74. Gasket 40 on shuttle 34 seals bottle 100 to prevent gas from escaping, thus preserving the bottle contents beneath an atmosphere of the heavier-than-air inert gas noting that check ball 36 prevents backflow of either oxygen or inert gas.

As noted previously, the cabinet of the present invention further contemplates employing a cooling system such as a thermoelectric cooler to maintain the storage temperature of the wine. Reference is again made to U.S. Pat. Nos. 7,047,762 and 7,096,677 incorporated by reference for their disclosures of such systems. Alternatively, a simple comparison-based cooling/refrigeration unit can be employed that is thermostatically controlled, the nature of which would be quite apparent to anyone skilled in this art.