The Wine Blogger NI

Are there gooseberries in my wine?

by Ciaran Meyler

You may think that’s a stupid question; however I’ve been asked that question numerous times over the past 30 years. Why do certain wines taste of particular fruit flavours? Do they add these fruit flavours whilst making the wine? In a word, No.

Wine is made from the juice of fermented grapes. Each grape varietal is different, i.e. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are all unique.

The skins, which provide colour and natural yeasts used in fermentation, can be thick or thin. Some will develop more sugar during the growing season, which can lead to higher alcohol.

During the winemaking process yeast is the biggest contributor to the taste profile. Wine develops its particular taste characters during fermentation. Mainly the natural yeast on the grapes eat the natural sugar in the centre of the grape, producing carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol, however some winemakers will induce the fermentation with cultured yeast which can impair certain flavours. Acidic is formed as a result of this fermentation, it will combine with the alcohol and other compounds from the grape to produce “esters” or flavour compounds. Those blackcurrant, apple, gooseberry or pear characters we get in wines come from those esters.

Oak fermentation or aging will also impart different tastes and character to the wines, mainly vanilla, butter or spice.

If you want to taste gooseberries in a wine try New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Branken Hill, the Decanter Trophy winning wine The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc or the all new Little Pebble Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Quote of the Month:
“Alcohol, the cause of and the solution to all of life’s problems”
Homer Simpson

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