Tastry and RNDC Launch New Innovative Sales Program
Here's what you need to know about using wine AI to mitigate smoke taint.

Smoke Taint: Here’s What You Need To Know

In 2020, wildfires wreaked havoc on many of California’s vineyards, leaving an impression of smoke in some of the wine produced with exposed fruit.

Wineries not only had to sustain great losses within their portfolios, but also had to protect their reputation when mitigating how to use smoke tainted fruit. Many winemakers, including Keith Prader at Shale Canyon Wines, didn’t feel confident putting their name behind a wine affected by smoke taint.

Whether your production was affected by the smoke taint of 2020 or not, concerns about the risk of smoke taint continue to be held by both growers and winemakers.

The year 2020 caught many people in the wine industry by surprise, but learning more about smoke taint and how it may affect your wine can help you find the most efficient solution for smoke taint events they may affect you in the future.

How does my wine get smoke tainted?

Out in the vineyard, smoke taint is caused by volatile phenols that are released from the burning of wood in nearby fires and land on the grapes. These phenols leach through the skin and some bind with the sugars inside of the grapes to form glycosylated phenols. Because some of the phenols are glycosylated, they are unable to be detected sensorily before fermentation.

In the winery, many of these glycosylated phenols are broken apart during fermentation, where sugars are broken down to form ethanol, and the volatile phenols are released and smokey characteristics can then be detected. In wines with residual sugar, there still may be glycosylated phenols that may, or may not, be released as sugars break down over time in the bottle.

How does smoke taint impact my wine?

The possibility of these glycosylated phenols releasing smoke tainted compounds later on in the wines life may seem daunting, but the reality is that the majority of wines on grocery store shelves are purchased and consumed over short periods of time. In most cases, this doesn’t give much time for the glycosylated phenols to become a pertinent threat to the flavor or texture of your wine. So if you happen to make a wine that will sell quickly, it may not be worth it to spend time and money worrying about the levels of glycosylated phenols in your wine.

What is Tastry’s approach?

Instead of focusing on the glycosylated compounds in finished wines that might be released over time, for many winemakers, focusing on the unbound smoke taint compounds in your wine detectable after fermentation, or for evaluation purposes a micro-fermentation to dry, might be the most actionable approach. Understanding the concentrations of the various unbound smoke taint compounds post-fermentation still provides valuable information and an opportunity to apply solutions to mitigate their effects.

My wine has smoke taint – what do I do next?

Tastry not only measures these compounds, but also gives you suggestions on how you can ameliorate them. After analyzing unbound compounds post secondary fermentation, TastryAI can identify possible treatments to lessen the negative characteristics associated with smoke taint.

TastryAI suggests which additions, blends, and treatments are most likely to provide the best outcomes with the minimal impact on structure. This results in the most ideal and realistic solution, custom created for your specific challenge.

Do you have any wines that may be affected by smoke? Schedule a meeting with Jeff here to learn about possible solutions.

Share the Post: