You love wine – so do we. Ideally a woody-fruity Chardonnay, or a cool, light red, a perfect delicacy. Preferably in good company, on a sun-kissed beach with your feet in the warm sand. And, since it’s our summer dream, we would like our wine to be perfectly cooled; because nothing can dampen the mood like a lukewarm splash of white or rosé, like vinegar in your throat. It’s not the biggest problem in the world, we know that, but it gets a high score in the ‘annoying’ category and ‘they really should invent something for this’: the question of how to keep your wine perfectly at even temperature, as well as portable. And, of course, with a certain style and panache. You can bring an ice bucket or a steel cooler your beach spot, but they are so heavy and ugly. You could bring a frozen sleeve, but it will start melting, leaving watery stains, before you’ve even settled down.
But then there was KYWIE®, with a lot of capital letters and a trademark. An ingenious cooler with inside-out sheep fur. That’s right: inside-out sheep fur. Invented and developed by designer and businesswoman Saskia Nooij, apparently inspired by the world-famous Uggs, but with a different goal than keeping warm the dainty feet of hipster women around the world. Wool keeps everything with a heart and a circulation warm. A cool wine bottle can be many things, but it isn’t alive and doesn’t radiate heat. This means that wool will keep a cool bottle cool. The cool air between the bottle and the cylinder-shaped KYWIE cannot escape and therefore the hot outside air cannot enter. Many joyful hours are guaranteed! Does it work, a wine cooler made of sheep fur? Definitely! If you do not want to believe us, trust wine writer Harold Hamersma, who tested the KYWIE for the NRC Handelsblad newspaper. He concluded that white wine was kept cool and red wine remained at room temperature for four hours. A scientific triumph that the designer is very proud of. She knows her stuff: her career in the food industry brought her knowledge of drinks and temperature; her media career created a strong sense of taste, style and tactility – the ‘touch’ of a product.
Saskia Nooij: “And then there was my grandfather who owned a fur shop in Amsterdam, an expert in treating furs, who taught me everything about the isolating quality of furs.” Nevertheless, the inspiration came out of nowhere. And Saskia Nooij had some trouble convincing the Dutch leather worker she approached about the effectiveness of the product and its chances on the market. “They thought of me as a weird lady with a funny idea.” But success has been achieved. KYWIE coolers (short for Keep Your Wooler, by the way) are now available in four models: wine, champagne, demi (500 ml) and koozie (330 ml). The latter two can be used for (reusable) water bottles, cans, tea, coffee and baby bottles. There is even a key-chain version for your bottle ‘on the go’. The suede coolers are available in various natural colours and structures. Recently, for example, ‘leather’ coolers were introduced. Still made of 100% sheep fur, but the suede outside is smooth or decorated with a print. KYWIES find their way through web shops and the (better) wine stores to trendy consumers and the catering industry, who have adopted the stylish, shock-absorbing and sustainable cooler in large numbers. Since the first coolers were introduced, sales have doubled every year. Saskia Nooij speaks of her company values, which form the root of her success: “
All KYWIE products have to fulfil three demands: function, aesthetics and sustainability. In other words: we do what we promise. We aim for the highest convenience and this is what we deliver, especially compared to the stiff plastic and steel options that are available. KYWIE is produced in small workshops following strict European regulations. As for aesthetics, we ensure we don’t move to far from the original product design, and we test new models thoroughly among relevant peer groups.” Nooij keeps a tight control on every frivolous experiment from her workshop on the Vreelandse Vecht river. She continues: “Finally: sustainability. KYWIE aims to minimize its ecological footprint. That is clear from the materials we use and the aim of the product. Sheep fur from Texel is a Dutch material, fully biodegradable, and the tanning is done according to strict European regulations. In fact, its origins mean that this is the best Dutch gift for overseas friends and family! In use, cooling elements are not necessary and the wine does not have to be put in to and taken out of the fridge. This saves energy for both the fridge and the consumer.”
These eco-efforts have been recognized, since NGO’s have given KYWIE the title of ‘eco-preneur’. But that’s not enough: Saskia Nooij has the ambition to make every wine lover in the Netherlands and abroad fall in love with KYWIE and to conquer the world. “It is feasible,” Saskia says, “because once you have tried KYWIE, you’ll never want anything else. Even if you don’t drink wine.” We can’t wait for next summer! But we’ll manage until then, in front of the fire, lying on a bearskin with a tasty red wine, at a perfect 18 degrees thanks to KYWIE! For a complete overview of the collection, see www.kywie.com. The site also lists all offline and online sale points.