Tracing glycosidically-bound smoke taint markers from grape to wine

The increasing frequency of wildfires on the West Coast of the USA is seen as a significant risk for the grape and wine industry. Research has shown that perceived smoke impact in wines correlates with increases in volatile phenols (VPs) in grapes exposed to fresh smoke. During wildfires large quantities of volatile phenols are released into the air due to the thermal degradation of lignin. Besides the detectable free forms of these VPs, a large portion of VPs are stored in the grapes as various nonvolatile glycosides, which can be enzymatically/chemically released during fermentation and wine aging. Remarkably, the mechanism of VP glycosylation is not well understood, making it challenging to predict the smoke taint potential of a particular wine by simply analyzing free VPs or their corresponding acid-labile forms. In this study, clusters of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were exposed to known amounts of isotopic volatile phenols in a contained atmospheric system. After the exposure, the glycosylation of absorbed isotopic volatile phenols in grapes was traced and identified by UHPLC-qTOF-MS. In addition, both the free and acid-labile forms of isotopic VPs in the exposed grape were analyzed by GC-MS. Exposed grapes were also micro-fermented and the isotopic VPs’ levels of juice/must were monitored every two days until fermentation was completed. Finally, the obtained wines were analyzed by GC-MS for the free and acid-labile volatile phenols, while the related glycosides were determined by UHPLC-qTOF-MS. Grape enzyme activity showed variable ability in forming mono-, di- and trisaccharide volatile phenols when exposed to volatile phenols in this in vitro study. By tracing the hydrolysis of isotopic VP-glycosides and the levels of related VPs during micro fermentations, this study expands the knowledge of the correlation between different forms of volatile phenols and the related glycosides. 

Authors: Yan Wen1, Oberholster Anita1 and Arias-Pérez Ignacio1

1Department of Viticulture and Enology, University of California Davis, Department of Viticulture and Enology, University of California Davis, Davis, 95616, CA, USA

*corresponding author: yanwe@ucdavis.edu

keywords: smoke taint, volatile phenols, glycosides, fermentation, tandem mass spectrometry

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