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Wildfires in California could mean consumers will enjoy smoky wine, experts say

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

  • Wildfires in California release intense smoke that permeates the grapes
  • Experts say consumers can expect wine with a smoky taste for years to come
  • Smoke also finds its way into barrels used to make wine, experts say
  • Smoke odor occurs when burnt wood releases an aromatic compound into the air
  • The smoke then binds with sugars in grapes, changing the taste of wine

Wildfires have been raging in California since August, and the intense smoke not only fills the air but also finds its way to grapes used to produce wine.

As wood burns during these fires, it releases aromatic compounds that penetrate the grape’s skin and bind with sugars within.

Because the fires were so intense this season, experts say consumers can enjoy smoky-flavored wine for years to come.

Wine industry expert Burak Kazaz said, “ There are ways winemakers can try to ‘mask’ the smoky taste, but it has permeated literally everything from the grapes themselves to the wooden boxes and barrels used to store grapes and keep it. finished wine product. ‘

Wildfires have been raging in California since August and the intense smoke not only fills the air but also penetrates grapes used to make wine

Wildfires have been raging in California since August, and the intense smoke not only fills the air but also penetrates grapes used to make wine

Winemakers have become very concerned about smoke odor in recent years as experts warn that climate change will only contribute to the number of wildfires each year.

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

Wildfires are increasingly common in California, and the seasons start earlier and end later each year, eroding the state’s prized grapes.

Grape smoke scent occurs when wood-secreting compounds called volatile phenols can break in a grape’s cuticle and bind with sugars in it to form glycosides.

As wood burns during these fires, aromatic compounds are released that penetrate the grape skins and bind with sugars inside. Because the fires were so intense this season, experts say consumers can enjoy smoky-flavored wine for years to come

As wood burns during these fires, aromatic compounds are released that penetrate the grape skins and bind with sugars inside. Because the fires were so intense this season, experts say consumers can enjoy smoky-flavored wine for years to come

As wood burns during these fires, it releases aromatic compounds that penetrate the grape’s skin and bind with sugars within. Because the fires were so intense this season, experts say consumers can enjoy smoky-flavored wine for years to come

And the whole process goes unnoticed – the only way winegrowers know the grapes have been compromised is to taste the finished wine.

“Heavy smoke and a burnt taste are difficult to remove, and the effect is cumulative as the state has been hit hard by wildfires in recent years,” Kazaz explains.

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

Kerry Wilkinson, a leading smoke scent researcher at the University of Adelaide in Australia, told Wine Spectator, “If you are close to the fire but the smoke is blown away quickly, the chances of smoke odor are less.”

Wine industry expert Burak Kazaz said, There are ways winemakers can try to 'mask' the smoky taste, but it is literally permeated with everything from the grapes themselves to the wooden boxes and barrels used to store grapes and the finished wine product.

Wine industry expert Burak Kazaz said, There are ways winemakers can try to 'mask' the smoky taste, but it is literally permeated with everything from the grapes themselves to the wooden boxes and barrels used to store grapes and the finished wine product.

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

“While you might be further away from the fire, but if the smoke drifts in and lingers in your vineyard, the risk increases.”

Researchers at the University of British Colombia unveiled a new innovation in February: a spray that can protect grapes from smoke odors.

The team found that applying an agricultural spray consisting of phospholipids – usually used to prevent cracks in cherries – to wine grapes a week before they were exposed to simulated forest fire smoke significantly reduced the levels of volatile phenols measured in smoke-exposed grapes in commercial grapes . maturity.

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