Grapes – your quickfire guide
Grapes were grown as far back as Ancient Roman times and for good reason. The plump berries taste delicious in salads or as a snack, plus they’re the main ingredient of wine. Check out our quickfire guide for more interesting facts.
Grapes – different varieties
The two main types of grape are red and white. And the term “grape” can refer to both table grapes and wine grapes. But what’s the difference? Unlike table grapes, wine grapes are smaller with more pips and a thicker skin. Their acidity levels are also higher, which is important for the winemaking process. Table grapes are less acidic. Unlike wine grapes, there’s no post-ripening and barely any difference between red and white. Although red grapes have darker skins, the flesh inside is a similar colour to white grapes. Darker varieties taste sweet, while white grapes are tangier.
Where do grapes come from?
These small berries were originally farmed around the Caspian Sea. The longer grapes mature on the vine, the fuller the flavour. Although vines need lots of sunshine, moderate temperatures give the grapes a more intense flavour – one reason why they’re cultivated in Europe and end up in some of the world’s finest wines. In Germany, the season runs from September to October but grapes are readily available all year round.
From the vine to the bottle
But how does the humble grape become a wine? Harvesting usually begins in September. When the grapes reach a specific must weight, or a percentage of natural sugars, they are picked by hand or by a machine and then crushed. The thick mixture that results is called “mash” and contains the grapes’ skin, pulp, juice and pips. It’s left for 24 hours to extract the aroma from the skins. The mash is then pressed and becomes “must”. To prevent the wine from spoiling, sulphur is added before it’s poured into large vats to ferment. Yeast kicks off primary fermentation and transforms the sugars into alcohol. If consumed while still in its fermentation process, the wine is known as “federweisser”. If the fermentation process is interrupted early, the wine is referred to as a “sweet wine”.
The main difference in producing red and white wine is the order in how things are done. For red wine, it’s the mash and not the must that ferments because almost all the pigmentation is found in the darker skins.
Has all this talk of wine left your mouth watering? Pop into your local Vapiano and sample a glass from our Vapiano Selezione. You can also order them for delivery.
- Most grapes sold in supermarkets are now seedless. But grape seeds contain all kind of nutrients. It’s fine to eat the seeds too, although it may take some getting used to at first.
- Up to a few years ago, only winemakers were permitted to grow and sell grapes in Germany. However, in the year 2000 table grapes were officially recognised as edible fruits and can now be farmed freely.
- Germany’s most unusual vineyard is situated in Hamburg’s huge industrial port. Every year it produces its own cuvée from red and white grapes.
How do you prefer your grapes? In a fruit bowl or from a bottle?