Background and Aims: Grapevine smoke exposure has been reported to produce smoke aromas in wine, resulting in ‘smoke taint’. This study describes the application of smoke to field-grown grapevines between veraison and harvest to investigate the effect of timing and duration of smoke exposure on wine composition and sensory attributes.
Methods and Results: Smoke was applied to grapevines as either a single smoke exposure to different vines at veraison or at 3, 7, 10, 15, 18 or 21 days post-veraison or repeated smoke exposures to the same vines at veraison and then at 3, 7, 10, 15, 18 and 21 days post-veraison. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis of guaiacol, 4-methylguaiacol, 4-ethylguaiacol and 4-ethylphenol showed elevated levels in all wines produced from fruit from smoked grapevines. Repeated smoke exposures had a cumulative effect on the concentration of these compounds. A trained sensory panel identified the aromas of ‘burnt rubber’, ‘smoked meat’, ‘leather’ and ‘disinfectant’ in all wines derived from smoke-exposed grapevines but not in control wines.
Conclusions: Smoke application to field-grown grapevines between veraison and harvest can influence the accumulation of volatile phenols and intensity of smoke aromas in resultant wines. A peak period of vine sensitivity to smoke at 7 days post-veraison is identified. Repeated smoke exposures have a cumulative effect.
Significance of the Study: This is the first study to report the deliberate and controlled smoke application to field-grown grapevines demonstrating the timing and duration of smoke exposure to significantly affect wine chemical and sensory characters.