The exposure of grape vines to forest fire smoke can make wine made from those grapes taste unpleasantly smoky and ashy. In the industry, this wine defect is known as smoke-taint. It has been demonstrated that these sensory defects are associated with increased concentrations of volatile phenols in grapes and/or wine. Specific correlations include: phenol, guaiacol, o/m/p-cresol and 4-methylguaiacol. In addition to their presence as free volatile phenols, these analytes are also present as a pool of sugar-bound derivatives. SUPRA quantitates these derivatives using a meticulously developed acid-catalyzed hydrolysis approach. Such testing is critical to understanding the total pool of volatile phenols that could impact finished wine quality.
Understanding and modulating the chemistry of smoke-taint is critical to the global wine industry, as it can ruin entire grape crops – especially since the incidence of smoke-taint is expected to worsen as climate change increases the number and severity of forest fires in grape growing regions around the world. SUPRA invested three years of research and development into smoke-taint, with an emphasis on how it impacts grape growers and wine producers in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada. These research endeavours produced world-leading analytical methods for quantitating smoke-taint in grapes, juice and wine, which SUPRA proudly offers to our clients.