Investigation of Different Winemaking Protocols to Mitigate Smoke Taint Character in Wine

Research regarding smoke taint has mostly been undertaken in Australia with a focus on vine susceptibility, potential mitigation actions during winemaking to limit smoke taint expression and potential ways to remove smoke taint in the final wines. Thorough review of published smoke taint research indicated large gaps in knowledge and inconsistent results. The objective of the research project was to compare all the suggested wine protocols that evolved from the current literature using one batch of smoke impacted grapes under identical winemaking conditions except for the parameter under investigation. Results from this study will enable to us to better advice the wine industry during future smoke events. Results from this study will enable us to better advice the wine industry during future smoke events. SPME-GC-MS and UPLC-Q-TOF-MS methods employing stable isotope dilution methodology (SID) have been implemented. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were received from three different areas with varied amounts of smoke exposure (Oakville, Alexander Valley, and Silverado Trail AVA’s) in Northern California. Gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and sensory analysis were performed in order to correlate wine composition to smoke taint characteristics. The winemaking variables investigated were the use of different fermentation yeasts, oak additions and fermentation temperatures. Among other attributes, smokiness and ashy aftertaste were found to be significantly different among the wines, showing a clear difference between the wines that were made from smoke impacted fruit and the control wines that were made from non-impacted fruit. One yeast showed a significant effect by highlighting the fruitiness in the wines and reducing the ashy aftertaste. Different oak additions were not successful in masking the impact of the smoke. Similarly, different fermentation temperatures did not have a significant impact on smoke expression in the resulting wines. Findings indicate that mitigation strategies during red wine fermentation have a limited impact on the extraction of smoke taint markers as well as the expression of smoke taint sensory characteristics.