A Quick Look at Wine Grapes

Grapes of all colors, whether used for wine making or as a tasty snack, are healthful and delicious. The sweet little fruits have been cultivated for centuries, providing refreshment and nutrition to people on every continent except Antarctica. Grapes contain, among other good things, antioxidants known as polyphenols, and we are fortunate that they taste just as good as they are good for us. The remarkable properties of wine grapes and snacking grapes may contribute to better heart health by increasing blood flow, blood vessel function and arterial flexibility. They may even defend the body against a range of age-related illnesses. Grapes distinct features have made it optimum for wine, one of the oldest, most popular and beloved fermented drinks ever produce. However, if eaten off the vine, many of the most popular wine grapes do not taste anything like what you would find in the supermarket. They are not nearly as sweet and keep distinct, sometimes, harsh flavors. Those flavors, upon being fermented, help produce fantastic wines.

Ask a botanist, and they’ll tell you that there are more than one thousand different varieties of grapes. Most of the flavorful and aromatic properties of grapes are contained in the skin. To keep things simple, let’s focus on the four basic colors of wine grapes: white, green, red and black.

English: Sauvignon blanc wine grape. Location:...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

White Grapes / Green Grapes

There are no truly white varieties of wine grapes. Grapes that are not black, red or purple are referred to as “white” or green grapes. Grapes of this sort range in color from a bright herbal green to the palest shade of green which does appear to be almost white under sunlight.

While “white” or green grapes do not contain all the nutrients of red and black grapes, they are still quite yummy and good for you, too. All grape berries contain trace minerals along with vitamins C, E and K. For eating, green Thompson grapes are quite popular. For wine making, varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel are preferred. The whitest of the green wine grapes is the Pinot Gris, which, as the word ‘gris’ implies, appears greyish white in sunlight. These grapes normally produce  refreshing wines that are normally zesty, acidic and light.

Red Grapes

Red grapes actually include grapes that can look both red or blue or somewhere in-between. Of all wine grapes, the reds provide the most available source of Carotene and Resveratrol. Studies are being conducted worldwide that show an exciting array of promising potential health benefits to Resveratrol, including improved heart health and protection from certain forms of cancer. Red wines come from the when the grape juice, after being the grape is crush, is exposed to the skins in the beginning of the fermentation process.

Grenache, Pinot noir and Cabernet are among the most popularly grown red wine grapes, being cultivated in many regions of the globe. Napa and Sonoma counties in California are known throughout the world for the fabulous red grapes and wines created there.

Cabernet Grapes
Cabernet Grapes (Photo credit: BenBalter)

Black Grapes

The most deeply pigmented wine grapes are referred to as black or purple grapes. Rhone varietals such as Syrah and Sangiovese produce excellent wines which are reminiscent of black pepper and sometimes, chocolate. Aging in new oak barrels contributes to the exciting and powerful flavor of red wines made from black grapes.

The enticing Malbec wine of Argentina, the sprightly Bordeaux of France and the enchanting Chianti from Italy are all delicious examples of wines made with highly pigmented wine grapes. If you’re looking to boost your antioxidant intake, red and black grapes and wine made from the same may be exactly what you want.

Go ahead and power into a big bunch of juicy grapes for breakfast. Enjoy a glass of vino with dinner tonight. You’ll be doing yourself a wonderfully delicious favor.

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