Misconceptions About Smoke Taint

With Northern California’s wine region now recovering from the horrible wildfires that tore through many areas (including the well known tourist towns of Napa, Santa Rosa and Sonoma) earlier this month, there’s been a ton of speculation about the effects the smoke will have on any remaining grapes.

While many wineries had (thankfully) already harvested their grapes, many were faced with difficulties and couldn’t get the last of their fruit picked from the vines. As a result, many winemakers will be faced with smoke-affected grapes. But what has scientific research learned about the dreaded smoke taint?

Smoke taint is a term used to describe the act of smoke seeping into the pores of grape skins and leaves and becoming part of the juice and wine chemistry. Wines main with smoke tainted grapes often have unpleasant characteristics like off-putting aromas and a bitter, charred taste.

Wines & Vines has compiled a list of the six most common misconceptions about smoke taint, from legends about how to get rid of the taint to long term effects of the smoke. Read more to learn how to distinguish fact from fiction.

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