While there is no reason that you can’t eat wine grapes, you may not want to. With a much thicker skin, more seeds, and a much sweeter flavor than your typical table grape, wine grapes are best left to the pros to make into a glass of wine instead of eating.
In this article, we are going to explore the world of wine grapes. It will help you better understand why you probably do not want to eat them and how they differ from table grapes in almost every way.
Can I Eat a Wine Grape?
You can eat a wine grape, but if you’re expecting the juicy snap of a red or green table grape you will be very disappointed.
Wine grapes have a thick, tough skin and the fruit itself is loaded with seeds, has a strong flavor, and is very sweet. Both of these things lend themselves to winemaking, but not to snacking.
Although a wine grape might not be a delicious snack on a hot summer day, there is no harm in trying them. If you ever tour a winery, you may be asked to pluck a wine grape off a vine and taste it. It’s fun to taste the grape and imagine what type of wine it will become once harvested.
What Would Happen If I Ate a Wine Grape?
Nothing bad would happen to you if you ate a wine grape, but you may not enjoy it and find yourself reaching for another handful because they just don’t taste great. The things that make them taste odd like the thicker skin and seeds are part of what makes great wine, though.
How Are Wine Grapes and Table Grapes Different?
Wine grapes are much smaller than table grapes. At first glance, wine grapes almost look more like a blueberry than a grape. They are a deep blueish purple color and are significantly smaller than the grapes you are used to seeing in your fruit salad.
Table grapes are usually several times the size of a wine grape, which is thanks to the high water content. The water in a table grape dilutes some of the sugar which makes them much more palatable to eat than a wine grape.
These major differences are due to the fact that wine grapes and table grapes are actually completely different species of grapes. Wine grapes are mostly from the Vitis Vinifera species, whereas table grapes are commonly from Vitis Labrusca and Vitis Rotundifolia.
Why Are Wine Grapes So Small?
Wine grapes are small because their flavors are made to be concentrated. This helps with the end product of delicious wine. The small surface area of a wine grape means that the sugar to water ratio is higher and there is almost as much skin and seed as there is fruit in a wine grape.
With wine grapes, no parts are wasted. The skin, seeds, and fruit all go into creating the wine. The presence of all of these parts is necessary to develop the exact right flavor of each wine.
Winemakers spend countless hours perfecting the ratio of skin to seed to fruit to craft a perfect wine. This ratio will vary from wine varietal to wine varietal, and even from vintage to vintage of the same wine depending on the harvest that year and the wine maker’s influences.
What Do Wine Grapes Taste Like?
We already know that wine grapes tend to be sweeter than table grapes, but what do they really taste like? Once you break through the tough outer skin, the fruit inside is usually very sweet but it is often loaded with seeds that can be a bit bitter.
The overall experience of tasting a wine grape can be described as earthy, spicy, and of course, sweet. A lot of the flavor is influenced by when in the harvesting season you pick the grape and also what type of wine grape it is as well.
White wine grapes tend to be much sweeter and juicier tasting. Red wine grapes usually have more of an earthy, spicy, and rich flavor.
Every grape varietal will have subtle differences that are noticed even through tasting the grapes fresh off the vine. This is much the same way that the finished wines will taste very different as well whether you are drinking a buttery Chardonnay or a juicy Cabernet Sauvignon.
Can I Grow Wine Grapes in My Garden?
Yes, you can purchase seeds to start a wine grapevine in your garden. Many online retailers offer wine grape growing kits and you can also sometimes find them at local garden centers in certain parts of the country.
Growing wine grapes is not for the faint of heart, though. Wine grapes are notoriously finicky about the climate and conditions where they are grown. They tend to thrive in moderately cool, dry climates, so if you live somewhere that it’s hot and humid you may not have much luck.
Can I Buy Wine Grapes at the Grocery Store?
You won’t find wine grapes in your local grocery store produce section. The only way to purchase wine grapes is to buy a winemaking kit or you may be able to buy them directly from a local winery near you.
Other than the fact that they are not very good tasting, one of the biggest reasons that you won’t see wineries selling wine grapes to eat is because they need them all to make wine! Vines produce so few usable grapes that every one harvested is important to the winemaking process.
What Can I Make with Wine Grapes Other Than Wine?
If you do like the taste of wine grapes, there are some things you can make with them other than eating them plain. You could make them into grape juice, dry them into raisins, pickle them, or make them into any number of sauces, dressings, or jellies.
Other great things you can do with wine grapes are to make wine vinegar or even repurpose the leaves for cooking. Stuffed grape leaves is a delicious Mediterranean dish that you can make from wine grape leaves.