Techniques for Mitigating the Effects of Smoke Taint While Maintaining Quality in Wine Production: A Review

ABSTRACT

Smoke taint has become a prominent issue for the global wine industry as climate change continues to impact the length and extremity of fire seasons around the world. Although the issue has prompted a surge in research on the subject in recent years, no singular solution has yet been identified that is capable of maintaining the quality of wine made from smoke-affected grapes. In this review, we summarize the main research on smoke taint, the key discoveries, as well as the prevailing uncertainties.

We also examine methods for mitigating smoke taint in the vineyard, in the winery, and post production. We assess the effectiveness of remediation methods (proposed and actual) based on available research. Our findings are in agreement with previous studies, suggesting that the most viable remedies for smoke taint are still the commercially available activated carbon fining and reverse osmosis treatments, but that the quality of the final treated wines is fundamentally dependent on the initial severity of the taint. In this review, suggestions for future studies are introduced for improving our understanding of methods that have thus far only been preliminarily investigated.

We select regions that have already been subjected to severe wildfires, and therefore subjected to smoke taint (particularly Australia and California) as a case study to inform other wine-producing countries that will likely be impacted in the future and suggest specific data collection and policy implementation actions that should be taken, even in countries that have not yet been impacted by smoke taint. Ultimately, we streamline the available information on the topic of smoke taint, apply it to a global perspective that considers the various stakeholders involved, and provide a launching point for further research on the topic.