Influence of processed Halyomorpha halys bugs on the aroma and taste of 'Chardonnay' and 'Merlot' musts and wines
Keywords:Vitis vinifera; Pentatomidae; Hemiptera; wine making; sensory analyses; organoleptic tests.
Native to East Asia, the invasive brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) was accidentally introduced into Switzerland around 2004 and is now spreading all over Europe. This pentatomid is highly polyphagous and attacks vegetables, field and tree crops as well as soft fruits. Moreover, all development stages of H. halys are found in vineyards, suggesting that grapevine is also a host plant for this insect. Nonetheless, its actual effects on European wine production is unclear. As such, we studied the impact of processed H. halys on the aroma and taste of grape musts and wines. We artificially contaminated 'Chardonnay' and 'Merlot' grapes with up to ten H. halys nymphs and adults per kg grapes directly before the vintage was crushed. In the freshly pressed must, the addition of 1 living bug/kg grapes did not affect the olfactory sensation of the 'Chardonnay' juice. However, the aroma and taste of 'Chardonnay' and 'Merlot' musts contaminated with 3 to 10 H. halys individuals/kg grapes could be distinguished from the uncontaminated control juices and were perceived as vegetal and woody. Yet after bottling, the different wines with 0 to 10 H. halys individuals/kg grapes could no longer be differentiated from each other in 2-out-of-5 discrimination tests. Amongst 17 rated organoleptic descriptors to characterise the sensory profile of the four 'Chardonnay' wines, only two showed significant differences; the colour intensity increased and wines’ finesse decreased with the number of added bugs. For the three 'Merlot' wines, none of the 21 organoleptic descriptors of the sensory profiles differed significantly. In addition, winegrowers did not dislike H. halys contaminated 'Chardonnay' and 'Merlot' wines compared to their uncontaminated controls one year after bottling. It therefore seems that the molecules responsible for the off-flavours in contaminated musts volatilise to a large part during the fermentation process. Our results consequently indicate that a contamination of the vintage with H. halys has the potential to alter the quality of grape musts and potentially grape juices but that there is little risk for influencing the taste of processed wines. Nonetheless, we recommend monitoring the development of H. halys in vineyards in order to anticipate quantitative and qualitative problems at harvest.
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