Wine ‘tasting’ AI could save grapes from wildfire smoke

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As forest fires continue to escalate in frequency and ferocity, wineries can find ghostly reminders in their barrels. Compounds released by the flames can be absorbed through the skins of grapes, leaving tastes that can range from “hint of smoke” to “cigarette butt,” which could ruin a year-old vintage.

“It’s not the kind of subtle wave from a distant log fire,” Australian winemaker Tim Kirk said. Wine lover. “It’s burnt salami served on an ashtray.”

California-based Tastry is hoping to fix the problem as wine regions look to a hazy future of droughts and fires. Using its artificial intelligence platform that “tastes” wine, the company wants to help wineries predict how their smoky wine tastes and, if possible, how best to fix it.

“After Tastry’s analysis, TastryAi predicts the effects of smoky taste on the taste, aroma and texture of the finished wine,” the company said. said.

As forest fires continue to escalate in frequency and ferocity, wineries can find ghostly reminders in their barrels.

This could allow winemakers to then potentially solve the problem by using products that can alter the flavor of the wine or by mixing the wines together.

“Tastry is committed to doing its part to help wineries get through what is expected to be another damaging California fire season,” said Katerina Axelsson, CEO of the company. noted.

IA of taste: Axelsson was working in a winery when she noticed “idiosyncrasies” in the way wines were rated, she tells Freethink. Winemakers typically tested a compound, determined how much of it was in the wine, and used that information to predict its taste.

“The problem is, it’s not very predictive,” says Axelsson. His hypothesis was that all the different compounds in a wine worked together to give it its flavor.

“There is a flavor matrix effect in this chemistry, and other compounds in this chemical soup mask or allow this compound that you were originally looking for to express itself.”

Building on his background in chemistry, Axelsson began to sample wine, identify the thousands of compounds it contains, and use AI to determine how they interact with each other, obtaining a snapshot of the whole wine.

Compounds released by the flames can be absorbed through the skins of grapes, leaving tastes that can range from “hint of smoke” to “cigarette butt”.

From there, she could determine the aromatic profile of the wine and compare and contrast it with other wines in the database. Using this information, Tasty launched a wine recommendation app and provides wine analysis services to winemakers, which now includes smoke scent analysis.

Where there is smoke … Anyone who loves wine will tell you – be delighted to tell you, in fact, how the environment in which a grape grows plays a complex and crucial role in its taste. So it’s no surprise that smoke contamination is much trickier than “was there a fire nearby?” ”

“Just because you have smoke doesn’t mean your grapes will be affected by smoke,” UC Davis researcher Anita Olberholster told Wine Enthusiast. “What we are telling producers is that if there is smoke, there is a potential risk. But this is only a potential risk. Don’t assume. It is very difficult to predict.

Tastry’s AI is supposed to take some of the difficulty out of this prediction.

More than just giving wineries a glimpse of a possible smoke smell, testing can also help them find ways to mitigate it, such as assembly options or the use of oak additives, to save a vintage spoiled by smoke.

Tastry’s AI predicts the effects of smoky taste on a finished wine.

Tastry’s AI got the data they needed from the underworld last year. As labs that provide smoke analysis became overwhelmed, Tastry devoted part of his own lab space to determining how much smoky compound could be contained in a batch. With this data, Axelsson plans to go beyond the simple “how much” this year.

“We kind of add an extra step to it, and we say ‘within that limit, for that … particular chemistry of a wine, this wine is going to have a favorable outcome,’” said Axelsson. “Over time, consumers will receive it positively. So we add context to this equation.

With climate change driving Longer and more vicious wildfire seasons, Axelsson believes the industry is preparing for a future of flames, developing ways to save as much wine as possible.

“I really believe there are a lot of great wines out there,” says Axelsson.

“And we just don’t want to waste it.”

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