The European gooseberry (Ribes grossularia or Ribes uva-crispa), is a member of the currant family, or perhaps red, black and white currants are a member of the gooseberry family. Whatever the case, they are closely related and share the same genus name (Ribes ssp). They are edible when ripe and are usually sweet, flavorful and aromatic. They grow on spiny shrubs and some varieties sometimes sport spines as well.
In North America, there are many wild species of both gooseberry and currant. Among the former are Ribes californicum (California or hillside gooseberry), Ribes cynobasti (dogberry or prickly gooseberry), Ribes divaricatum (western or coastal gooseberry), Ribes hirtellum (wedgeleaf gooseberry), Ribes inerme (western gooseberry), Ribes irriguum (northwestern gooseberry), Ribes leptanthum (southern California gooseberry), Ribes lobbii (gum or gummy gooseberry), Ribes missouriense (Missouri gooseberry), Ribes niveum (California gooseberry), Ribes oxyacanthoides (northern gooseberry), Ribes quercetorum (Baja gooseberry), Ribes roezzii (Sierra gooseberry), Ribes rotundifolium (purple or purple sage gooseberry), and Ribes setosum (heartland gooseberry). These vary in color (when ripe) from pale purple to greenish-purple to dark green to dark purple to black to red. Most are sweet when ripe, but some are bitter or otherwise unpleasant. All are acidic and astringent when unripe. The most widely spread throughout the United States and Canada is the dogberry or prickly gooseberry, so named because its fruit is covered with spines.
I have dozens of recipes for gooseberry wines. I am including three good ones here.
Put sugar and water in pot and bring to beginning of a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Meanwhile, wash and destem gooseberries, culling out any that are unsound or not ripe. Put fruit in nylon straining bag, tie opening closed securely, and mash in bottom of primary. Pour hot sugar-water over fruit, cover with clean cloth, and set aside to cool. When room temperature, add yeast nutrient and crushed Campden tablet, stirring well to dissolve. Recover primary and set aside for 12 hours. Add pectic enzyme, stir, recover primary, and set aside another 12 hours. Add activated yeast. Stir daily for 7 days. Drip drain nylon straining bag (do not squeeze) over primary, recover and allow to settle overnight. Rack liquid into secondary, top up if required and fit airlock. Rack, top up and refit airlock every 30 days until wine clears and no new sediments form during a 30-day period. Stabilize, sweeten to taste if desired, wait 10 days, and rack into bottles. Allow to age 12 months before tasting. [Recipe adapted from Terry Garey's The Joy of Home Winemaking]
Bring water to boil while dissolving sugar in it and remove from heat. Meanwhile, wash, destem and sort gooseberries, discarding any that are not fully ripe. Put gooseberries in nylon straining bag and tie end securely. Put in primary and crush berries with piece of hardwood or potato masher. Pour water over crushed berries. Add white grape juice frozen concentrate, tannin and yeast nutrient. Stir well, cover primary with clean cloth and set aside to cool. When at room temperature, add crushed Campden tablet and stir. Recover primary and set aside for 12 hours. Add pectic enzyme, stir, recover primary, and set aside another 12 hours. Add activated yeast. Stir daily for 8 days. Drip drain (do not squeeze) nylon straining bag over primary, discard pulp, recover primary, and allow to settle overnight. Rack into secondary, top up if required and fit airlock. Rack, top up and refit airlock every 30 days until wine clears and no new sediments form during a 30-day period. Stabilize, sweeten if desired, wait 10 days, and rack into bottles. Allow to age 12 months before tasting. [Author's own recipe]
Thinly slice bananas and put in pot with sugar and water. Put on heat and bring to a simmer, holding simmer for 20 minutes, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Strain off and discard bananas and return water to simmer. Chop or mince raisins (or sultanas) and add them to simmering water. Wash and destem gooseberries, cull out any that are unsound, and add to simmering water. Cover pot and simmer additional 20 minutes. Pour water, raisins (or sultanas) and gooseberries into primary. Stir in citric acid and yeast nutrient, cover primary and set aside until room temperature. Stir in crushed Campden, recover and set aside 12 hours. Stir in pectic enzyme, recover and set aside additional 12 hours. Add activated yeast. Stir daily for 3 days. Strain into secondary (discarding fruit), top up and fit airlock. Rack, top up and refit airlock every 30 days until wine clears and no new sediments form during a 30-day period. Refrigerate for 3 days, stabilize, sweeten if desired, wait 10 days, and rack into bottles. Allow to age 12 months before tasting. [Recipe adapted from J.R. Mitchell's Scientific Winemaking Made Easy]