The type of grapes native to North America, called table grapes, make for delicious fruits to munch on. They’re big, pulpy, and do not contain any seeds. But can they make good wine? This is a question that divides opinion in the wine community, and the general consensus seems to be that wine grapes are just uniquely suited for winemaking.
Wine grapes possess several features that produce fine wine, while table grapes are naturally built to be eaten. However, there are ways to adjust the differences to produce wine out of table grapes, but it is unclear whether this is worth the time, effort and resources one would need to do so. This article discusses all the facts in favor and against making wine from table grapes. We will describe the differences between the two types of grapes, and discuss the hardships involved in attempting to use table grapes for wine.
Why Can’t Table Grapes Be Used To Make Wine?
Table grapes simply do not have the flavors or sugar levels to make good wine. It’s thin skin and unseeded pulp means that it is much easier to eat, but it lacks tannins, the chemical that causes dryness in wines. Its big size also means that it carries more water, which reduces the sugars in the fruit. This affects the fermentation process where these sugars are broken down to produce alcohol.
Besides, the small size of wine grapes also means that they contain more concentrated flavors. The pulpiness of table grapes leaves little room for the subtle and complex notes that normally shine through in wine made from wine grapes. The production process of table grapes encourages this. Being a high yielding grape, table grapes are easier to produce in bulk since they do not need as dense sugars or notes as wine grapes, which take longer to induce.
What If I Want To Try Making Wine From Table Grapes Anyway?
Making table grapes suitable for winemaking essentially involves adding ingredients that compensate for the differences in its composition to a wine grape. The difference in acidity and sugar levels can be modified by adding water and sugar. A hydrometer will help you judge the sweetness of your concoction.
You’ll also need a lot of grapes. The ideal number is estimated by some to be around 20 pounds of table grapes for one gallon of wine. These grapes need to be de-skinned before mashing. You will also need to de-stem them, which is a difficult task that involves grappling with a lot of sharp and pointy outgrowths that can leave you with bloody hands. You can buy or rent equipment for these steps in the procedure if you wish to reduce costs.
In general, suggestions on making wine from table grapes can vary drastically. From the time needed for fermentation, to the amount of grapes to use per gallon, and to the ingredients needed for a desirable taste, different recipes offer their own perspectives. This, along with the cost of equipment needed for making wine with these grapes at home, makes this an untenable activity for most.
Unless you are very passionate about making your own wine, and only have table grapes at your disposal, it is probably not feasible to make wine from anything other than wine grapes. They have several unique characteristics that make them appropriate for winemaking. Table grapes are delicious when eaten alone, and changing them to the point of complete transformation appears to be a waste. As such, winemakers should probably stick to wine grapes when practicing their craft.