OSU research finds new compounds causing ‘smoke taint’ in wine
Winemakers may soon be able to raise a toast, even after a growing season marked by wildfire smoke.
Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered a new set of compounds that cause smoke taint in wine.
Previously, the ashy flavor was attributed to “volatile phenols”—but tests for those compounds didn’t predict whether wine had a smoky taste.
Elizabeth Tomasino is an Associate Professor at OSU and led the research. She told KLCC they discovered a set of sulphur-containing compounds called thiophenols, which are associated with burnt bacon and very charred meat.
Tomasino said winemakers will now have a test to learn which wines are affected, and should soon be able to clear out the thiophenols. However, “there’s still some research that needs to be done, because unfortunately, a lot of remediation doesn’t just remove those thiophenols, they remove other beneficial compounds we’d like, but it puts us a lot further ahead than we were.”
Tomasino said her lab continues to work with UC Davis and Washington State University on the issue. The work is funded by grants from the USDA and other organizations.
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