OSU researchers make breakthrough in compound found in smoke-tainted wine

CORVALLIS, ORE. – In the last couple of years, Oregon State researchers have been simulating wildfire smoke to determine its affect on grapes.

Now, they’re saying a compound, not typically found in wine, could be causing the change in taste.

According to researchers, a sulfur-containing compound called Thiophenol, combined with volatile Phenols, is what gives wine that ashy or smoky taste.

The wildfire smoke itself attaches to the skin of the grapes, so they’re finding that red wine, in particular, is vulnerable to smoke from wildfires.

This breakthrough could mean good news for vineyards across the west, who are sometimes affected by wildfire smoke.

“So now that we have a specific target in mind, that we can start looking at, we can start aiming directly for that, removing those compounds out, so that they can start selling the wines they want to sell again,” OSU researcher Cole Cerrato said.

Researchers have found not everyone can taste the difference in wine that is tainted with smoke.

Cerrato said they will continue to study this sulfur-compound yo better understand how it can be removed from wine.

He also told NBC5 a new lab will open this summer at Oregon State where winemakers can send potentially smoke-tainted wine to them to see if it is affected by wildfire smoke.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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