The effect of winemaking techniques on the intensity of smoke taint in wine


Dr Renata Ristic, fax +61 8 8303 7116, email


Background and Aims:  The chemical composition and sensory properties of smoke-affected grapes and wine has been the subject of several recent studies. However, while this research has addressed early knowledge gaps surrounding the effect of smoke on grapes and wine, to date, no practical solutions that mitigate the incidence or severity of smoke taint have been reported. The current project therefore aimed to identify winery processing methods that minimise the sensory impact of smoke taint in wine.

Methods and Results:  Different winemaking techniques were used to process smoke-affected grapes, i.e. cold maceration, the use of different yeast strains for primary fermentation and the use of oak and tannin additives. The extent of smoke taint in the resulting wines was determined by quantification of volatile phenols using GC-MS, followed by descriptive sensory analysis.

Conclusions:  Applied winemaking practices showed significant impacts on reducing the negative implications of smoke exposure on the chemical composition and sensory properties of wines. Winery processing methods that reduced skin contact time enhanced fruit character, produced wines with reduced ‘smoke’ aromas and flavours and less apparent taint. Selected yeast strains can be used as a tool for altering smoke-related aromas, flavours, colour and chemical composition of wines. The addition of oak chips and tannin enhanced the complexity of wines thereby reducing the perception of smoke-related attributes.

Significance of the Study:  These findings will enable winemakers to make more informed decisions when processing smoke-affected grapes, in order to minimise the severity of smoke taint perception in resulting wine.