Latest research on smoke taint revealed

Friday, 28 January, 2022
Wine Industry Advisor, Barbara Barrielle.
Tom Collins, head of the smoke research efforts at Washington State University, spoke to the industry on January 20 about his latest progress in his multi-year research on the effects of smoke on grapes and wine made from grapes exposed to smoke.

Stressing that these results are preliminary and final conclusions are awaiting publication in a series of scientific journals, Dr. Collins presented a glimpse of the research undertaken at the Washington Advancements in Viticulture and Enology (WAVE) labs beginning in 2016, which were greatly expanded in 2019. These experiments focused on the effectiveness of barrier sprays and the sensor network being created throughout the geographical wine regions of Washington state.

Dr. Collins, along with his small team, created controlled smoke exposures on Merlot grapes in the university’s research vineyard every two weeks during the growing season. The initial experiment created kaolin and bentonite clay barrier sprays, which were applied to grapes the night before smoke exposure. A control sector of grapes saw no barrier spray.

“The study in 2018 was inconclusive; concentration of smoke compounds in whole berry extracts did not differ significantly from treatment,” said Collins after measuring levels of guaiacol found in the resulting wine made in bucket fermentations. Guaiacol and 4-methylguaiacol are present in wood smoke and have been found to be the resulting compounds left on grapes after smoke exposure. They are suspected of causing smoke “taint” or flavors.

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Latest research on smoke taint revealed
Latest research on smoke taint revealed

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