When vineyards and grapes have been exposed to smoke, this can result in wines with undesirable sensory characters, such as ‘smoky’, ‘burnt’, ‘ashy’ or ‘medicinal’, usually described as ‘smoke tainted’. Detailed information about smoke taint is available from the AWRI’s smoke taint webpage.

To assess whether a wine has a perceptible smoke character, a specialised screened, qualified and trained smoke sensory panel rates the intensity of smoke aroma and flavour in duplicate, under blind conditions. The results are analysed by comparison to a control sample, to determine if the samples are statistically different. It is recommended that this sensory evaluation be accompanied by chemical analysis to determine the concentration of volatile phenols and non-volatile precursor compounds (glycosides). This assists with the interpretation of any perceived smoke character.

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