In most of my wine workshops, without a fail, someone will risk to ask: how do they get that gooseberry aroma in the wine? By adding flavouring?
This might seem like a strange question to a wine snob, but it is in fact a very important question and I always delight when i get such questions in a class.
To answer this, I have a funny story that happened to me a while back.
Sauvignon blanc is always described by pros as having the aromas of "gooseberry". Some of the best sauvignon blanc wines in the world are made in the Loire in France, and its biggest market is in Paris, not far away.
So, one summer I was there and passed by a fruit shop. I saw all these kinds of gooseberries on display, red, green, yellow, large, small, medium. And so i was curious and asked the shop attendant which of those are the ones used to describe aromas in the wine. (Naturally, i wanted to buy them and really "print"the aromas in my brain for ever.) He looked at me, puzzled, thought about it for a moment, went in the back of the store, shouted the question to his colleagues, all came out and started debating for a good 10 minutes, if not 20.
Their conclusion: it must due to plants of gooseberries in the vineyard and since famers can plant any of them, it must be any of them...
Many people think that aromas in wine comes from additives or because there are similar plants around the vineyard.
In fact, it is not. The answers once more highlight the magic of wine.
If you pick sauvignon blanc in a vineyard and taste the grape, it will taste of nothing particularly interesting. Even well ripe. It is generally the process of fermentation that creates the primary (depending on the grape) and secondary (depending on the wine making technique) aromas. The last types of aromas, terciary, are created by maturation in the oak barrel and bottle for extended period of time. The chemical transformation is so powerful that it creates aromas that did not exist in the raw material.
So, why gooseberry in this case? Scientists have discovered that the very molecules that generate the gooseberry smell in gooseberries can also be found in sauvignon blanc wine AFTER fermentation. Their presence in sufficient quantity will make the wine smell of gooseberry.
Here is the thing about wine aromas. Each and everyone of us has a different threshold of identification for each and every single aromas that exist. This is why smelling wine is such a personal experience. Precise aromas are not so important in the scheme of evaluation. What is important is the spectrum of aromatics. the more complex is the wine, the "wider" the spectrum.
Aromas lists are useful only to identify the wine. In themselves however, they are not important. More critical still, they absolutely must never ever be a source of argument between tasters.
After all, wine is for pleasure. Enjoy the gooseberries!