SMOKING OUT SMOKY GRAPES
A little smokiness in a nice old vine Garnacha is one thing. Wine that actually smells like smoke is an entirely different matter. 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 American Chemical Society’s 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. 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, scientists developed a test for the substances formed in grapes after exposure. They describe its development and laboratory tests demonstrating that the method can determine whether grapes have been tainted before they were crushed and pressed into wine.