Table of content A-Z


Table grape


Botanical name: Vitis vinifera ssp. vinifera



The origin of table grapes can be traced far back into early history. The region around the Caspian Sea is considered to be the place where our cultivated table grape evolved from the wild form. Table grapes are grown today throughout the world.


The majority are used to produce wine, and a small part is processed as raisins. Only 15% of the grapes grown are eaten fresh. In Germany as well, grapes are grown mainly to make wine. The varieties of grape used for this are not suitable for eating fresh. Most of those that we eat are imported, more than half of them from Italy.



Table grapes can be bought throughout the year. The supply is greatest from July to November, when the prices are more favourable. Domestic produce is occasionally available in September and October.


Appearance, taste, characteristics

The berries, arranged in clusters or bunches, are round, oval or oblong and differ in size according to the variety. Grapes may be green, blue, yellow, violet or amber in colour.


The taste depends on the variety: sugar-sweet, sweet, or sweet-tart.


Due to fluctuations in temperature between day and night, condensation forms on some grapes. When this evaporates, a natural waxy film forms on the grapes.


There is an almost inestimable varietal diversity of grapes. We differentiate principally between table grapes for eating and those that are used to make wine. The latter are somewhat smaller and normally have seeds that are often larger than those of the declared table grapes. They are better for pressing and yield thinner juice than table grapes. They are not available commercially.


In addition, the most important differentiating characteristic is the colour (blue/red and white/green). Along with the grapes that have small seeds in the pulp, there are also seedless varieties. They contain less tannin, a substance that makes the fruit bitter and is found mainly in the seeds, and are therefore nicer to eat.


Some types of grapes are good for both eating and pressing. Among these are Müller-Thurgau and Gutedel, or Chasselas.


The large muscatel grapes may be white or blue. They are by far the most aromatic grapes. Their aroma is like honey or nectar. A white variety is the almost bronze-coloured Chasselas dorato. One of the blue varieties is the Hamburger Muskat. Sweet dessert wines are also made from muscatel grapes, such as the Sicilian Marsala and the Spanish Malaga.


White (also green, yellow or amber) grape varieties are, for example:

* Italia, with very large, round, juicy fruits and a musky aroma.


* Perlette, a small seedless variety that is grown in France. The skin is quite thin and the aroma acidic.


* Sultana, a smaller variety that is imported in January and February from South Africa, in July and August from Cyprus and Turkey, and thereafter until October from Greece. The berries are somewhat oblong, green-gold and covered with a white film. The pulp is juicy.


* Sultanina, a variety that grows in Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey and is frequently used for making white raisins.


* Thompson: an American cultivar of sultanas.


* Thompson seedless are oblong fruits of medium size. Their skin is thin and covered with a white film; their pulp is sweet and juicy. They are grown in California, Cyprus and Egypt.


Among the blue (also red or black) grape varieties are:

* Alphonse Lavallée, also known as Ribier; they are imported at the beginning of the year from Africa, thereafter from Argentina, Chile, Spain and Greece. The berries are large and round, with a thick, dark skin and firm, crunchy pulp.


* Cardinal with large, oval fruits; a cross between Flame Seedless and Ribier grapes. The skin tends to be more red-violet than blue; while the pulp is succulent and firm, the taste is rather bland.


*Flame Seedless are quite small seedless grapes, with a thin, wine-red skin. The pulp is juicy and very sweet.


* Italia comes in white and in blue.


*Napoleon grapes are harvested in Spain between September and November. The thick skin is dark violet and is covered with a thick film; the pulp is sweet.


The best-known wine grapes are Cabernet, Trollinger, Silvaner, white Burgundy, Traminer and Riesling (white varieties), and blue Portuguese, blue late Burgundy, and Merlot (blue varieties).



Grapes contain easily digestible carbohydrates, e.g. dextrose, that enter the blood stream rapidly and thus supply quick energy.


Blue grapes have secondary plant substances in their skin, the anthocyanins, which give them their colour and are supposed to act as a prophylaxis against cancer. Grapes also contain tannins.


100 g contain:



Grapes, fresh


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Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

Unfortunately, the good taste of grapes, especially the blue ones, is not divinable from the outside. The ripeness of light-coloured grapes is recognizable, however, by their light, yellow-green or amber colour. If they are brownish where the stems are attached, this is a sign of being overripe. If you want to be sure about the taste, ask the merchant for a sample.


Grapes will keep in the refrigerator for several days. It is important to remove individual grapes that are beginning to rot immediately.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

As a rule, grapes are eaten raw. They should first be rinsed thoroughly with luke-warm water. They are a popular decoration for cheese platters or cheese kebabs.


In addition, grapes are used as a topping for cakes or in desserts. Grapes are rarely eaten warm, and jam made of grapes is rather unusual. Grape-seed oil can be pressed from the seeds for use in cooking and has a fine taste. As already mentioned, most grapes are made into wine.


Another economically important factor is the production of raisins. This way of processing grapes was invented by the ancient Egyptians and was very lucrative even then. The grapes remain on the vine until they are overripe and are dried after they are harvested, until their water content is only 15-18%. The yield from 2-3 kg of grapes is about 500 g of raisins. They can be light-brown to almost black, depending on the variety. Occasionally, raisins are sulphurated during production, in order to make them keep longer and to ensure that they do not discolour. Predominantly unsulphurated raisins are sold in Germany, and they are declared as such. The identification of sulphurated raisins is mandatory.


The term 'raisins' covers all types of dried grapes; more precise designations are currants, sultanas and raisins. They differ in colour, size, and the type of grape used. Raisins are used mainly in baking, in desserts, in mueslis or in uncooked vegetable dishes. They can also serve as a between-meals snack or enhance Oriental rice dishes with their sweet taste.





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