Beating smoke taint in Tasmanian sparkling wine

Beating smoke taint with sparkling wine – Climate Change Adaptation for the Tasmanian wine industry

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Smoke-affected fruit is a significant cost to the agricultural industry and a significant risk that deters investors and industry expansion. Negative sensory outcomes, not apparent in fruit but manifesting after fermentation and wine making, means significant financial outlay has already been invested with little to no chance for financial return. For vineyards and wineries, this could also include years of sunk investment into ageing of fine wines.

Smoke-taint compounds are sugar-bound in fruit and the sugar moiety is cleaved during fermentation and ageing which leads to smoke taint that is easily detected by consumers. Current options for remediation have focussed on removing smoke-taint compounds using activated carbon but these methods have also stripped out important flavour and aroma compounds. Thus, alternative approaches for adaptation to the ever-increasing risk and reality of smoke taint from bushfires without adversely affecting aroma and flavour is considered critical for the Tasmanian wine industry.

This PhD project will investigate (1) producing sparkling wine from low-level smoke affected wine grapes as a mitigation strategy for potential smoke taint and (2) the sensory impact of smoke taint compounds on sparkling wine during ageing on lees. The outputs will provide winemakers with the knowledge to help them develop risk management strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Samantha Sawyer


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements .

Applicants from the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

  • Agricultural Science
  • Food Science
  • Viticulture and Oenology

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • First-class honours or equivalent in agriculture, food or viticulture and oenology
  • Demonstrated proficiency in written and verbal English language

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Background in food and sensory quality
  • Field-based and lab-based experience is desirable
  • Hold a driver’s license

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Samantha Sawyer, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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