With climate change sparking concern about an increased risk of wildfires, scientists are reporting development of a way to detect grapes exposed to smoke from those fires, which otherwise could be vented into bad-tasting wine. Their report on the method for detecting smoke taint in both grapes and wine appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Yoji Hayasaka and colleagues point out that Australia and other areas of the world are experiencing an increase in bush and wildfires, which may continue and intensify with global climate change. Smoke from those fires can travel long distances and poses a special threat for wine grapes. Grapes exposed to smoke yield wines with unpalatable aromas and tastes, sometimes described as resembling “smoked meat,” “disinfectant” or a “dirty ashtray.”
In an effort to manage or avoid production of smoke-tainted wines, they developed a test for the substances formed in grapes after exposure to smoke. They describe its development and laboratory tests demonstrating that the method can determine whether grapes have been smoke-tainted before they were crushed and pressed into wine. The test also can identify smoked wines.
The authors acknowledge funding from Australia’s grape growers and winemakers through their investment body, the Grape and Wine Research Development Corporation, with matching funds from the Australian government.