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Managing Smoke Taint with Dr Mango Parker and Con Simos of the AWRI

This show was published 17 December 2021


In this second interview with Dr Mango Parker and Con Simos of the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) we discuss how wine producers can manage the problem of smoke taint in grapes.

Mango & Con talk about how wild fires affect vineyards and how the grape berries take up the volatile phenols of the smoke through the skin which then penetrate the entire grape. These are metabolised into glycosides which are more concentrated in the skins but are also present in the juice/pulp.

Hand-harvesting can be a way to reduce the level of smoke taint compounds being released into the pulp vs machine harvesting which can cause more breaking down of the skin which will then release more compounds into the pulp.

Higher fermentation temperatures cause more extraction, as does longer skin contact time and so winemakers need to consider wine-making techniques and decide whether to make the same style as usual or adjust the style to compensate for grapes affected by smoke taint. They may even need to consider whether to actually harvest any grapes or not harvest at all. The AWRI have devised analytical techniques so that producers can work out whether the grapes have been affected/exposed before they are picked.

With some styles of wine, such as light-bodied reds and white/sparkling it will be harder to hide the smoke taint compounds vs a full-bodied red where the compounds are more hidden and less likely to be detected.


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