How can wine have so many distinctive flavors despite being made only from grapes? For example I recently had Sauvignon Blanc that had a distinct taste of Green pepper, yet only grapes went into making it

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How can wine have so many distinctive flavors despite being made only from grapes? For example I recently had Sauvignon Blanc that had a distinct taste of Green pepper, yet only grapes went into making it

In: Chemistry
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Edit:I have no idea what category to put this into, buta I’m thinking its related to organic chemistry somehow

A number of causes, including:

1. Differences between grape varieties. Sauvignon Blanc is the name of a white/green grape variety, as is e.g. Chardonnay or Riesling. Red grape varieties include merlot, pinot noir and shiraz/syrah. Each of these grape varieties has different characteristics and a different flavor profile. Wines may use a single grape variety or a mixture, and so by choosing their grapes wine makers can influence the flavor profile of their product.
2. Differences in the wine’s *terroir -* a fancy word from French that literally means “land”, which refers to properties of the soil (e.g. mineral content) and often more broadly also properties of the environment (e.g. humidity, temperature, sun exposure, etc.). The mineral concentrations in the soil will be reflected in the grapes, for instance, and the amount of sun has an effect on the sugar content.
3. Differences in the wine-making process, of which there are many. Did they filter the wine? What yeast(s) did they use? Did all the grape sugar get fermented into alcohol, or did they leave some residual sugar in the wine (giving a sweeter flavor)? How was the wine bottled or aged? Did it spend time in wooden casks (with the wood imparting its own flavor), or was it kept in metal or otherwise flavor-neutral vessels? Basically every step of the wine-making process can be altered to produce (slightly) different results.

Fermentation is also key here. You start with ingredients that are already have variation between grape varieties & terroir, but then what the yeast does with that afterwards and all the flavorful compounds that yeasts can produce, creates a whole explosion of additional possibilities. If you just made grape juice you would also taste some differences depending on grape variety and terroir, but the variety of flavor profiles you get wouldn’t be nearly as large as the variety of wines that results from fermenting those grapes with different yeasts and through different processes.

Grapes have several different acids in them: tartaric, citric, malic, lactic, succinic, and acetic. Those acids react with ethyl alcohol and form esters. These esters are responsible for much of the fruity flavors of wine that are not grape flavors. So that’s why you can taste and smell blueberries, strawberries, lychee etc. from wine made just from grapes.

Now the green pepper aroma/taste comes from a class of chemicals called pyrazines. Some grape varietals have a natural propensity to express those but also it can be influenced by too much water or not trimming enough of the leaves off the vines.

Am I the only one who thinks wine just tastes like wine? All of them, cheap, expensive, it really doesn’t matter. Some are more bitter than others, but beyond that, they just taste like wine to me.