Why do some Australian red wines have a eucalyptus flavor?
A. Because early Australian pioneers historically added small amounts of eucalyptus oil to fermenting wine, believing it to impart health benefits
B. Because the species of American oak now grown in Australia takes on a slight eucalyptus flavor when the barrels are toasted
C. Because many vineyards are planted near eucalyptus trees, the leaves of which sometimes end up in picking bins and ultimately in fermenting vats
D. Because shiraz, Australia’s main red wine, naturally has a eucalyptus flavor
Eucalyptus trees are native to Australia, and many vineyards are planted in close proximity to them. The leaves of the trees contain an essential oil which itself contains the volatile compound 1,8 cineole, commonly known as eucalyptol. Eucalyptol has a fresh, cool aroma and flavor evocative of camphor and mint. According to the Australian Wine Research Institute, when vineyards exist near eucalyptus trees, the leaves of the trees often end up in picking bins, especially in vineyards that are machine harvested. The leaves both secrete their oil onto the skins of grapes, and some leaves may end up being fermented along with the grapes themselves. In a survey the Institute conducted of commercially available Australian wines, eucalyptol was found above sensory detection threshold in 40% of red wines.