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Whatever Happened To Wine Balloon After Shark Tank?

Sometimes, after a long day at work, it's nice to sit back and relax with a glass or two of wine. For those who have to get the kids ready for school and go to work the next day, they probably don't want any more than this. However, if a brand new bottle is being opened for that single glass, the rest of the wine can quickly spoil if the drinker doesn't intend to finish it by the next day or so.

Eric Corti, who appears on "Shark Tank" Season 3, Episode 4, knows this issue firsthand. He tells the sharks, "My wife and I love red wine, but it seems like we've poured more red wine down our kitchen sink as we've had to drink in our house."

In an effort to maximize the beloved beverage's life, Corti invented the Wine Balloon. With a brief squeeze of a grape cluster-shaped valve, a tiny balloon inflates inside the bottle and drastically minimizes the amount of air that can reach the wine. When one is ready to have more, they simply have to squeeze the valve again, and the balloon deflates.

Lori Greiner and Mark Cuban offer to buy the Wine Balloon for $400,000

On "Shark Tank," the sharks are intrigued by the invention; Eric Corti asks for $40,000, 30% equity. He demonstrates the Wine Balloon by placing it in a half-filled bottle of red wine, squeezing the valve, and inflating it to its maximum capacity. He even turns the bottle completely upside down to show how air-tight the seal is — not a drop of liquid spills out. Corti explains how he invested $65,000 of his own money and sold 700 units to some retailers. At the time, each Wine Balloon, made from medical-grade latex that doesn't affect the taste of the wine, cost $6.50 to make and sold for $22.

Kevin O'Leary makes an offer drastically different from Corti's goal; he'd go with Corti to a company that already manufactures an air plunging system for wine, negotiate a royalty deal, and take 30% of what's made in perpetuity. Lori Greiner, who believes the Wine Balloon should go directly to consumers, offers to buy Corti out for $500,000. Mark Cuban gets in on this deal, bumping Corti's potential check up to $600,000.

There's some tense back-and-forth between the two sharks and Corti, who asks for a 3% royalty. Greiner and Cuban aren't happy about this and pressure Corti to take the deal. In the end, he agrees to a buyout of $400,000 from the two with no royalties.

Wine Balloon is rebranded to Air Cork

During the high-pressure haggling with Lori Greiner and Mark Cuban, it's evident that Eric Corti is hesitant to completely give up his beloved invention, even when considering how much $400,000 would change his life. Once away from the lights, cameras, and shark staredowns, Corti was able to think more clearly. He realized he wanted to hold onto his blossoming company and backed out of the deal with Greiner and Cuban.

However, he wasn't done pitching his ideas on television shows. Corti later appears on "Kitchen Inventors," on which Steve Greenberg and Patrick Raymond travel around the U.S. to meet with different entrepreneurs. Out of three inventions, they choose one to pitch to a manufacturer and, hopefully, get it on store shelves. Corti's Wine Balloon is the winner, with the product pitched to Lifetime Brands — one of the largest housewares manufacturers in the world. After a round of intense questioning from executives about the product, Corti is signed to a licensing deal.

Additionally, on "Kitchen Inventors," Greenberg and Raymond help Corti rebrand the product to better showcase what it does. That was when the Wine Balloon officially became the Air Cork, boasting new, simpler packaging.

Air Cork is still in business

Over a decade has passed since Eric Corti's appearances on "Shark Tank" and "Kitchen Inventors." Though Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner warn Corti he won't be successful on his own — and that their buyout deal is his best option — he continues to prove them wrong. At the official Air Cork website, wine lovers can purchase the original grape design in burgundy, charcoal, white, or a barrel design. All are $28.50, and each Air Cork comes with three balloons and a branded storage bag. A pack of three spare balloons is also available for $8.

Unlike many companies that expand product offerings, such as SubSafe, Corti is sticking to what he knows and does best. The website reads, "Our company sells ONLY the Air Cork, not thousands of other items. We are a family-owned business, lucky enough to bring a single product to market and to the world. Rest assured that we will always support the Air Cork and our customers."

As of 2023, Air Cork boasts an annual revenue of $7 million, which means it's likely not going away anytime soon. At this point, it seems that Corti will continue to produce the single product, helping wine drinkers everywhere not have to pour their favorite merlot down the drain.