Smoke Taint: The Facts
What is smoke taint?
Learn more about the importance of a smoke taint test by downloading the Vintessential Smoke Taint Fact Sheet.
Smoke from fires, particularly bushfires, can affect the flavour of grapes and the wine made from them. The impact of smoke on grapes and the resultant wine varies considerably and a lot of research is being done at the moment to better understand this important issue.
Wine made from grapes that have been smoke affected have been described as having some of the following attributes: “burnt” “ashtray” “charred” “salami” “disinfectant” etc. Wine can be unfit for sale if the smoke taint is too great. You can find out the impact smoke has had on your grapes/wine by conducting a smoke taint test.
When are grapes most susceptible to smoke taint?
The time of the season is critical for the impact that smoke uptake can cause. Grapes have a low to medium uptake potential in the early stages of the season. However, from around 7 days post veraison until harvest the uptake of smoke into grapes is at its highest. The exact levels and duration of exposure to smoke that will cause taint has still not been precisely determined.
What is involved in a smoke taint test & how is smoke taint measured?
The key compounds that influence taint in grapes and wine have been shown to be the following volatile phenols:
- 4 methyl-guaiacol
- 4 methyl-syringol
One major issue is that these compounds can be found in juice and wine in the form of glycosidic conjugates—that is as bound compounds. If only the free portion is measured then this may be an underestimation of the potential problem.
Here at Vintessential, we recommend you consider conducting a smoke taint test. This is done by analysing both the free and bound component of these compounds to fully assess the samples.
When should grapes be analysed?
The most suitable time to analyse and conduct a smoke taint test on your grape samples is closest to harvest as possible when the berries have sufficient ripeness to enable fermentation.
It is also recommended that winemakers conduct small scale ferments to conduct a sensory assessment.
What sample is required?
Smoke Taint Sampling Instructions
500 g representative sample of berries or a sulfured 100 mL juice sample are required to conduct an accurate smoke taint test.
Smoke Taint Analysis
The Vintessential smoke taint analysis report provides 14 analytical results. Each analyte can be detected down to a level of 1ppb (part per billion)
Learn more about the importance of conducting a smoke taint test today—download the Vintessential Smoke Taint Fact Sheet.
Download Labels for Samples:
© Vintessential Laboratories 2019. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.