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Wildfires in California could mean consumers will sip smoky-tasting wine , say experts

Deadly California wildfires will affect vineyard grapes and mean wine will taste smoky for years to come, say experts

  • California wildfires are releasing intense smoke that is permeating grapes
  •  Experts say that consumers can expect smoky-flavored wine for years to come
  • Smoke is also making its way into barrels used to make wine, experts say
  • Smoke taint occurs when burnt wood releases an aromatic compounds in the air
  •  The smoke then bonds with sugars inside grapes, changing the flavor of wine

The Color Toner Experts

Wildfires have been blazing in California since August and the intense smoke is not just filling the air, but is making its way into grapes used to produce wine.

As wood burns during these fires, it releases aromatic compounds that permeate the grape’s skin and bonds with sugars inside.

Because the blazes were so intense this season, experts say consumers can expect to sip on smoky flavored wine for years to come.

Wine industry expert Burak Kazaz said: ‘There are ways that winemakers can attempt to ‘mask’ the smoky taste, but it’s literally permeated everything from the grapes themselves to the wooden crates and barrels used to store grapes and the finished wine product.’

Wildfires have been blazing in California since August and the intense smoke is not just filling the air, but is making its way into grapes used to make wine

Winemakers have been very concerned about smoke taint over the past few years, as experts warn climate change will only contribute to the number of wildfires each year.

A number of wineries across the world have already been hit hard, with Chile suffering the worst in 2017 that damaged more than 100 vineyards, Wine Spectator reports.

Wildfires have become more common in California and the seasons are starting sooner each year and ending later, which is tainting the state’s prized grapes.

Smoke taint of grapes occurs when wood release compounds called volatile phenols that are capable of breaking into a grape’s cuticle and bonding with sugars inside to form glycosides.

As wood burns during these fires, it releases aromatic compounds that permeate the grape¿s skin and bonds with sugars inside. Because the blazes were so intense this season, experts say consumers can expect to sip on smoky flavored wine for years to come

As wood burns during these fires, it releases aromatic compounds that permeate the grape’s skin and bonds with sugars inside. Because the blazes were so intense this season, experts say consumers can expect to sip on smoky flavored wine for years to come

And the entire process goes undetected – the only way vintners know the grapes have been compromised is when tasting the finished wine.

‘Heavy smoke and a burnt flavor is hard to remove, and the effect is cumulative as the state has been hit hard by wildfires for the past few years,’ Kazaz explained. 

Experts suggest monitoring smoke density and how long it lingers in an area to predict whether or not it will happen.

Kerry Wilkinson, a leading researcher in smoke taint at the University of Adelaide in Australia, told Wine Spectator: ‘If you are close to the fire but the smoke is blown away from you quickly, the risk of smoke taint is less.’

Wine industry expert Burak Kazaz said: ¿There are ways that winemakers can attempt to 'mask' the smoky taste, but it's literally permeated everything from the grapes themselves to the wooden crates and barrels used to store grapes and the finished wine product

Wine industry expert Burak Kazaz said: ‘There are ways that winemakers can attempt to ‘mask’ the smoky taste, but it’s literally permeated everything from the grapes themselves to the wooden crates and barrels used to store grapes and the finished wine product

‘Whereas you could be farther away from the fire, but if the smoke drifts in and lingers in your vineyard, then the risk will increase.’

Researchers at the University of British Colombia unveiled a new innovation in February – a spray that could protect grapes from smoke taint.

The team found that applying an agricultural spray composed of phospholipids — typically used to prevent cracking in cherries — to wine grapes one week before exposing them to simulated forest fire smoke significantly reduced the levels of volatile phenols measured in smoke-exposed grapes at commercial maturity.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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