Potential Mitigation of Smoke Taint in Wines by Post-Harvest Ozone Treatment of Grapes.Molecules. 2021 Mar 23; 26(6)M
When bushfires occur near grape growing regions, vineyards can be exposed to smoke, and depending on the timing and duration of grapevine smoke exposure, fruit can become tainted. Smoke-derived volatile compounds, including volatile phenols, can impart unpleasant smoky, ashy characters to wines made from smoke-affected grapes, leading to substantial revenue losses where wines are perceivably tainted. This study investigated the potential for post-harvest ozone treatment of smoke-affected grapes to mitigate the intensity of smoke taint in wine. Merlot grapevines were exposed to smoke at ~7 days post-veraison and at harvest grapes were treated with 1 or 3 ppm of gaseous ozone (for 24 or 12 h, respectively), prior to winemaking. The concentrations of smoke taint marker compounds (i.e., free and glycosylated volatile phenols) were measured in grapes and wines to determine to what extent ozonation could mitigate the effects of grapevine exposure to smoke. The 24 h 1 ppm ozone treatment not only gave significantly lower volatile phenol and volatile phenol glycoside concentrations but also diminished the sensory perception of smoke taint in wine. Post-harvest smoke and ozone treatment of grapes suggests that ozone works more effectively when smoke-derived volatile phenols are in their free (aglycone) form, rather than glycosylated forms. Nevertheless, the collective results demonstrate the efficacy of post-harvest ozone treatment as a strategy for mitigation of smoke taint in wine.