Impact of processed earwigs and their faeces on the aroma and taste of 'Chasselas' and 'Pinot Noir' wines
The abundance of the European earwig Forficula auricularia L. (Dermaptera, Forficulidae) in European vineyards increased considerably over the last few years. Although earwigs are omnivorous predators that prey on viticultural pests such as grape moths, they are also known to erode berries and to transfer fungal spores. Moreover, they are suspected to affect the human perception of wines both directly by their processing with the grapes and indirectly by the contamination of grape clusters with their faeces. In this study we artificially contaminated grapes with F. auricularia adults and/or their faeces and determined the impact on aroma and taste of white 'Chasselas' and red 'Pinot noir' wines. Whereas the addition of five living adults/kg grapes affected the olfactory sensation of 'Chasselas' wines only marginally, 0.6 gram of earwig faeces/kg grapes had a strong effect on colour, aroma and the general appreciation of 'Chasselas' wines. Faeces-contaminated wines were less fruity and less floral, the aroma was described as faecal and they were judged to be of lower quality. The contamination of 'Pinot noir' grapes with four different densities of living earwig adults (e.g. 0, 5, 10 and 20 individuals/kg grapes) showed that only wines contaminated with more than 10 earwigs/kg grapes smelled and tasted significantly different than the uncontaminated control wine. Earwig-contaminated 'Pinot noir' wines were judged to be of lower quality. The descriptors “animal”, “reductive”, “vegetal”, “acidic”, “bitter” and “tannic” characterised their sensory perception. In conclusion, our results show that there is a real risk of wine contamination by F. auricularia. In particular, earwig faeces and earwig adults at densities above a threshold of 5 to 10 individuals/kg grapes have the potential to reduce the quality of wines. The evolution of earwig populations in vineyards should therefore be monitored carefully in order to anticipate problems during vinification.
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