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UBCO testing impact of smoke on wine grapes

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Just in time for Okanagan vintners following a smoky summer of wildfires, UBC-Okanagan researchers have developed a method for testing the impact of smoke exposure to grapes.

The institution reports the new analytical test accurately measures the amount of volatile phenols on the fruit before being processed into wine.

The compounds are absorbed by grapes and can affect wine taste.

“Until now, detecting these smoky compounds in grapes required fermenting a small sample over at least ten days and relying on subjective measures like taste and odour,” assistant chemistry professor Wesley Zandberg said. “There’s no need to ferment them first and we get results within a matter of hours.”

Zandberg said the test results can help wine-makers decide whether to use smoke-tainted grapes or not.

The presence of volatile phenols doesn’t always detract from wine quality as some vintages are aged in smoked oak barrels that contain the compounds.

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