Skip to main content
Credit: Samuel Corum / Getty Images
The AI model can help predict smoke taint, as well as options to mitigate it.

As wildfires continue to escalate in frequency and ferocity, wineries may find ghostly reminders in their casks. Compounds released by the flames can be absorbed into the grapes’ skin, leaving tastes that can range from “smokey soupçon” to “cigarette butt” — potentially ruining a year’s vintage.

“It’s not the kind of subtle waft of a distant wood fire,” Australian winemaker Tim Kirk told Wine Enthusiast. “It’s burnt salami served on an ashtray.”

California company Tastry hopes to ameliorate the issue as winegrowing regions stare into a hazy future of droughts and fires. Using their AI platform that “tastes” wine, the company wants to help wineries predict how their smoke-tainted wine may taste and, if possible, how best to fix it.

“Following Tastry analysis, TastryAi predicts the effects of smoke taint on the taste, aroma, and texture on finished wine,” the company says.

As wildfires continue to escalate in frequency and ferocity, wineries may find ghostly reminders in their casks.

This could allow winemakers to then potentially fix the problem using products that can alter the wine’s flavor, or by blending wines together.

“Tastry is committed to doing its part in helping wineries navigate what’s expected to be another detrimental fire season in California,” CEO Katerina Axelsson said.

Tastemaking AI: Axelsson was working at a winery when she noticed “idiosyncrasies” in how wines were evaluated, she tells Freethink. Winemakers were generally testing for one compound, figuring out how much of it was in the wine, and using that information to predict how it would taste.

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

“There’s a flavor matrix effect in that chemistry, and other compounds in that chemical soup are masking or allowing that compound that you were originally looking for to be expressed.”

Drawing on her chemistry background, Axelsson began sampling wine, identifying the thousands of compounds inside of it and using AI to figure out how they interact with each other — getting a snapshot of the entire wine.

Compounds released by the flames can be absorbed into the grapes’ skin, leaving tastes that can range from “smokey soupçon” to “cigarette butt.”

From there, she could figure out the wine’s flavor profile and compare and contrast it with other wines in the database. Using this information, Tasty debuted a wine recommendation app, and provides wine analysis services to winemakers — which now includes analyzing for smoke taint.

Where there’s smoke… Anyone into wine will tell you — be delighted to tell you, in fact — how the environment a grape grows in plays a complex and crucial role in its taste. Unsurprisingly, then, smoke contamination is a lot trickier than “was there a fire nearby?”

“Just because you have smoke doesn’t mean your grapes will be smoke-impacted,” UC Davis researcher Anita Olberholster told Wine Enthusiast. “What we tell growers is, if there is smoke, there is a potential risk. But it’s just a potential risk. Don’t assume. It’s very difficult to predict.”

Tastry’s AI is meant to take some of the difficulty out of that prediction.

More than just giving wineries a head’s up on possible smoke taint, the analysis can also help them figure out ways to mitigate it, like blending options or using oak additives, saving a smoke-tainted vintage.

Tastry’s AI predicts the effects of smoke taint on a finished wine.

Tastry’s AI got the data it needed from last year’s infernos. As labs that provide smoke analysis became overwhelmed, Tastry dedicated some of its own lab space to finding out how much of a smoky compound may be in a batch. With that data, Axelsson plans to go beyond just saying “how much” this year.

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

With climate change driving longer and more vicious wildfire seasons, Axelsson believes the industry is gearing up for a flame-kissed future, developing ways to save as much vino as possible.

“I really believe there’s a lot of really good wine out there,” Axelsson says.

“And we just don’t want to waste it.”

Source: A wine “tasting” AI could save grapes from wildfire smoke

Wine-related trends

Unique Sensory Technology for Flavor Is Leveraged to Help California Winemakers

Katerina Axelsson of Tastry on Teaching Computers to Taste Wine

Recent food science topics

Food scienceInteresting
May 24, 2022

Study Shows How The Presence Of Strangers Could Affect Food Choices | Tasting Table

Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock Aristotle famously labeled humans as social animals, and in American culture, much of socialization centers around a meal. According to an ICSC survey, 64% of adults eat dinner…
FlavourFood science
May 17, 2022

Genetically modifying yeast to produce flavor compounds for craft brewers and winemakers | C&EN.ACS

Credit: University of California, Berkeley. Charles Denby (left) and Rachel Li, cofounders of Berkeley Yeast When Charles Denby looks at a pint of beer, he sees a product of one…
Food scienceMultisensory
May 9, 2022

The Benefits of Wine Include Activating Multiple Brain Regions | NOW

When wine connoisseurs discuss the complex flavors of a particular wine, they are sharing a multisensory experience that involves more brain regions than almost any other human activity. Whether you…
FlavourFood science
May 5, 2022

Robot Chef with Ability to Taste Food Unveiled | Fine Dining Lovers

Photo: ©University of Cambridge The rise of robots in restaurant kitchens has been well documented, with many claiming that the automation of cooking and preparation could act as a solution to the…
FlavourFood science
April 28, 2022

Fruit taste? It’s all a matter of algorithm | News Net Nebraska

Opening image credits: Pixabay Do you like fruit? No, we are not crazy, the issue we want to address here is strictly about berries and tomatoes (Yes technically tomato fruit). we will, Artificial intelligence It…
FlavourFood science
April 24, 2022

Here’s The Reason You Never See Grape Ice Cream | Simple Most

Adobe You can easily find grape-flavored soft drinks, candy or even ice pops, but you would be hard-pressed to pick up a gallon of grape ice cream at your local…
Food scienceMultisensory
April 23, 2022

Measuring the sensory product experience | New Food Magazine

When considering the testing processes in food production, most minds will gravitate to laboratory analysis. Here, we find out about another important test – sensory experience and fulfilment – and how…
FlavourFood science
April 22, 2022

How You Cut Garlic Determines Its Flavor | Lifesavvy

Nungning20/Shutterstock.com When it comes to flavors that are almost universally loved, garlic is near the top of the list. Whether you prefer a more mild flavor or enjoy a bold…
Food science
April 21, 2022

How to Run a Cooking School in the Metaverse | Futurist Speaker

While it’s already possible to run a virtual reality (VR) cooking school in the metaverse, one that demonstrates a three-dimensional Julia Child approach to preparing food, there are several emerging…
FlavourFood science
April 19, 2022

Researchers in Japan develop electric chopsticks to enhance salty taste in foods | CNN Style

Credit: ISSEI KATO/REUTERS Japanese researchers have developed computerized chopsticks that enhance salty tastes, potentially helping those who need to reduce sodium in their diets. Co-developed by Meiji University professor Homei…
DairyFlavourFood science
April 19, 2022

Why Temperature Is So Important When Serving Cheese | Tasting Table

Katarzyna Hurova/Shutterstock There is no doubt there are plenty of people who remember the ad campaign of the late '90s and early 2000s that hailed "the power of cheese." While…
Food scienceFood trends
April 19, 2022

Meals in the metaverse a new frontier for restaurants | Kindersley Clarion

Some restaurants are looking for new ways to re-engage with a market heavily affected by a two-year-old COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants have done a lot of juggling over the last two…
Food science
April 19, 2022

This ‘Electronic Nose’ Can Identify Whiskies Better Than Most Humans | Food & Wine

CREDIT: BRENT HOFACKER / GETTY IMAGES When grabbing a bottle of Johnny Walker Red, most consumers probably assume no one is trying to rip them off on a $20 bottle of…
FlavourFood science
April 17, 2022

Achievement unlocked: Flavors can now be tasted in Augmented Reality | The Gal Times

Flavors in AR (Photo: Microsoft) With the help of viewers, speakers, projectors and other elements, it is possible for people to have new experiences with the palate In a new experience,…
FlavourFood science
April 17, 2022

Partnership bears fruit with release of 2 new grape varieties | Observer Today

Submitted Photo Sugrafiftytwo is an ultra-early ripening green seedless grape variety with a sweet Muscat flavor and firm crisp texture. Two newly released grape varieties, developed collaboratively between Cornell AgriTech…
FlavourFood science
April 14, 2022

Scientists Artificially Recreate Smells Successfully Using an Olfactory Display | The National Tribune

A technology to generate a variety of scents by blending multiple odor components using mass spectra and multidimensional data analysis has been developed by Tokyo Tech researchers. They showed that…
Food scienceFood trends
April 13, 2022

How we judge food | New Food Magazine

Shutterstock Food and drink producers must consider the multi-sensory experience to ensure a fulfilling end result, but it’s important we don’t judge a book by it’s cover… As a consumer,…
FlavourFood science
April 11, 2022

Why vanilla is the most popular scent in 10 different cultures | EL PAÍS English Edition

A vanilla bean in French Polynesia.ANTOINE BOUREAU (GETTY IMAGES) Whether you’re a native New Yorker, a Chachi from the jungle of northern Ecuador or a Thai student from Ubon Ratchathani…
Beverage trendsCoffee and TeaFood science
April 8, 2022

Would You Let A Molecular Drinks Printer Make You “Coffee”? | Sprudge

via Cana One The molecular drinks trend doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, much to the chagrin of many of us here at Sprudge. It all began with coffee—or perhaps “coffee”—and…
Food scienceFood trendsRegulatory
April 7, 2022

Few consumers understand healthy food labels, study finds | Food Business News

Photo: ©MONKEYBUSINESS – STOCK.ADOBE.COM Pricing and labeling are top of mind for shoppers when it comes to health-boosting food and beverage products, according to a new survey from Attest. The…
Flavour trendsFood science
April 7, 2022

Why Brands Are Selling Dark Russet, aka Burnt, Potato Chips | Eater

Making chips and more extra well-done is the latest “innovation” in snacks. Getty Images Snack companies are always scrambling to figure out what the next hot flavor is, because The…
FlavourFood science
April 6, 2022

Researchers develop two new grape varieties | Phys.org

Sugrasixty is a midseason ripening red variety with large berries and a tropical aroma with overtones of mango. Credit: Sun World/Provided Two newly released grape varieties, developed collaboratively between Cornell…
Food science
April 6, 2022

What Is MSG? The Odd Tale Of Its Unsavory Reputation | IFLScience

IN A VERY UNEXPECTED TWIST, THE MSG MYTH CAN BE TRACED BACK TO A BIZARRE MIX OF ANTI-ASIAN PREJUDICE AND (PERHAPS) A PRANK THAT SNOWBALLED OUT OF CONTROL. IMAGE CREDIT:…
FlavourFood science
April 6, 2022

Taste testing taps into the modernized speed of artificial intelligence | Food Dive

Permission granted by IBM From cutting sugar to discovering new flavors, manufacturers such as Conagra and Danone are turning to the technology to get products to market faster and gain…
Food science
April 5, 2022

I tried RoboBurger, the world’s first burger vending machine | Today

A Jersey City mall is home to the world’s first robot burger vending machine, RoboBurger — so I gave it a try.Jessica Montgomery / TODAY If you consider yourself a…
Food scienceFood trends
April 5, 2022

TikTok is Becoming a Food Industry Influencer | The Food Institute

Users sharing their food on social media is nothing new, but TikTok is taking the phenomenon to new heights. Earlier this week, the hashtag for “food” had garnered a whopping…
FlavourFood science
April 4, 2022

Ancient smells reveal secrets of Egyptian tomb | Nature

This papyrus from from the tomb shows Kha and his wife Merit worshipping the lord of the afterlife, Osiris.Credit: Leemage/Corbis/Getty More than 3,400 years after two ancient Egyptians were laid…
FlavourFood science
March 3, 2022

The Garlic Powder Hack You Need To Start Using | Tasting Table

innakreativ/Shutterstock If you love to cook, we're willing to bet that there's one particular kitchen ally you draw upon time and again: garlic. This wonderfully flavorful allium is a bonafide…
FlavourFood science
December 23, 2021

Chalky spinach, soapy cilantro: 5 weird food phenomena explained | Medical News Today

Some weird food experiences can easily be explained by science. Yagi Studio/Getty Images Medical News Today looks at why some people have such a strong aversion to cilantro, why we…
FlavourFood science
November 23, 2021

Get this: Fungus can make trash smell like strawberries | Popsci

Karolina Grabowska via Pexels You might not think of mushrooms as great cooks. But fungi, as it happens, could be a wonderful way to make flavors. By using fungal enzymes…