Grape Varieties - An Overview

When talking about wine we are specifically talking about wine made from grapes – wines made from other fruits such as plum, apple and apricot for example are known as fruit wines. (Very inventive I know.)

Wine Grapes VS Table Grapes

It’s important to note there is a big difference between table grapes that we munch on from the supermarket and the grapes we use to make wine.

The main differences are the species of grape variety – Vitis Vinifera (wine) and Vitis Labrusca (Table), and Vitis Rotundifolia/ Muscadine (Table) and some Vitis Vinifera (Table – these will be the premium supermarket grapes).

Wine grapes have thicker skins which is where all those lovely tannins and that pretty colour come from, whilst table grapes are thinner skinned so they are nicer to munch on and give that lovely juicy pop when you crush them in your mouth.

The reverse of what you’d expect is true when it comes to sweetness. Wine grapes have about twice the sugar levels of table grapes and they are harvested at around 22-30% sugar while table grapes will be closer to 10-15%. The lower sugar makes them lighter for snacking but not suitable for fermentation.

Wine grapes tend to be smaller and have more intense flavours which is exactly what you want when making wine. Table grapes are larger, bursting with juice from being more swollen with water which makes them more refreshing.

Yields, which is a major factor when looking at the quality of the wine being produced are also much smaller in wine grapes, table grapes are trellised so the grapes hang independently of each other allowing for much higher yields which means all the flavour is spread out among a greater number of grapes so less intensity of character.

So why do we use Grapes to make wine?

There are many reasons for this, sugar content, acidity, tannins – but I’m not going to focus on that for now – feel free to follow the links to find out more about those elements in wine.

I’m actually talking more about the flavours we find in grapes which make