So, why indeed don’t we just make all the grapes in the world into wine? The answer is simple, really.
There are grapes that are grown for wine production – wine grapes (Sauvignon, Merlot, etc.) – and grapes intended for consumption as is – table grapes. They originate from the same root (for those who are really interested, it’s called “Vitis Vinifera” or Common Grape Vine), but have very different characteristics.
Table grapes are the bigger of the two. They are much fleshier than wine grapes, but their skins are thinner and pips (grape seeds) smaller. These characteristics are the result of successive breeding to suit human taste, and thanks to this, table grapes pop delightfully in your mouth.
Wine grapes, in contrast, have essential traits for wine-making. They are only about one-centimetre in diameter, their skins are thick and their pips are large. The thick skin gives the wine its colour and contains the juice within the berry to give the flavour.
Why Wine Grapes?
These dissimilarities result from different ways the grapevines are grown. For table grapes, vines are grown via the trellis system, which basically means the berries hang under the vines and are shaded from the sun. The direct effect is that there will be more grapes to harvest, and they will be less sugary (10% to 15%). The vines of wine grapes, on the other hand, grow in T-shapes, which allow the berries to be in direct contact with the sun, which then results in less berries but more sugary ones (22% to 30%). The higher sugar content in wine grapes are perfect for making wine, as the sugar will transform itself (due to the yeast) into alcohol during the fermentation process.
Despite their differences, there is no doubt that table and wine grapes share their ancestry and both bring joy to our lives. We should appreciate the fact that we can enjoy the best of both worlds!
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