Mitigation of retronasal smoke flavor carryover in the sensory analysis of smoke affected wines

With the steady rise in wildfire occurrence in wine regions around the world, there are quality issues beginning to face the wine industry. These fires produce clouds of smoke which have the ability to carry organic molecules across vast distances that can be absorbed by grapes. When these compounds make their way into the final wine, unpleasant smokey and burnt flavors are present, along with a lasting ashy finish. Along with the volatile compounds carried by smoke, once incorporated into the fruit these compounds become bound to sugars, forming glycosidic compounds. The bound volatiles can then become volatilized through many stages of the winemaking process, with a heavy sensory impact from the hypothesized release in the mouth by enzymatic actions. This can lead to lasting ashy and smokey flavor sensations that pose issues for sensory analysis. Specifically a carryover bias occurs, where residual sensations cause augmented intensity ratings when evaluating many samples in sequence. for accurate analysis of smoke tainted wines, this bias needs to be accounted for to correctly identify the extent to which a sample is smoke affected. Previous work has found that a 1 g/L pectin solution is effective in mitigating this bias, however, requires the lengthy separation of 120 seconds between samples. The objective of this work is to determine the efficacy and efficiency of other interstimulus rinses in reducing smoke related flavor sensations in the mouth. The progression of the intensity of both typical red wine attributes, mixed berry and floral, and smoke related attributes, smokey and ashy, were evaluated using a fixed-time point evaluation system on wines with differing smoke compound levels (low, moderate, high). For the rinse systems, ethanol, lipid, and dextrose solutions were evaluated along with the recommended pectin solution. Of these rinses, the 4 g/L dextrose solution was the most effective in clearing smoke flavor perception, requiring 90 seconds to return the mouth to baseline conditions. Additionally, this work identified retronasal flavor standards that are representative of the the flavors found in smoke-affected wine that can be used to better understand the in-mouth sensations. Overall, this study provided greater insights into the sensorial impact of wines produced from wildfire affected grapes and can be used to guide effective practices in future analysis of these wines.

Authors: Tomasino Elizabeth1, Fryer Jenna1 and Collins Thomas S.2

1Oregon State University
2Washington State University

*corresponding author: elizabeth.tomasino@oregonstate.edu

Keywords: smoke taint, wine, sensory analysis, widlfires, carryover bias

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