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Too many stinkbugs spoil the wine

The grape-loving insects are a foul-smelling addition

By
7:00am, February 22, 2017
A stinkbug on a grape

BUGS INTO WINE  When marmorated stinkbugs (Halyomorpha halys, shown) get stressed, they release a chemical known to ruin red wine.

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How many stressed-out stinkbugs does it take to spoil a batch of wine? More than three per grape cluster, new research says. 

Stinkbugs are a pest among vintners because of the bugs’ taste for wine grapes and namesake foul smell. When accidentally harvested with the grapes and fermented during the wine-making process, the live insects can release their stink and ruin the wine (SN: 5/5/07, p. 285). The newly determined threshold is three per cluster of grape, researchers from Oregon State University in Corvallis report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. More stinkbugs produced red wine that tasted musty, as judged by a consumer panel. Quality tanked with rising levels of the stress compound, (E)-2-decenal, which smells like coriander.

White wine lovers can rest easy; stinkbugs don’t seem to affect its flavor because white is processed differently than red.

3

stinkbugs

Maximum number of stinkbugs allowed per grape cluster before red wine tastes bad

Citations

P. Mohekar et al. Influence of winemaking processing steps on the amounts of (E)‑2-decenal and tridecane as off-odorants caused by brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Vol. 65, January 8, 2017, p. 872. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b04268.

Further Reading

J. Raloff. Bugged wines. Science News. Vol. 171, May 5, 2007, p. 285.

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