Table Grapes Vs. Wine Grapes
Please explain to me what is the difference between wine grapes and table grapes.
This is a great question and one that gets down to the basics of learning how to make your own wine.
There are many significant differences between wine making grapes and table grapes – eating grapes as you called them:
Table grapes are crunchy-er with a stronger skin and firmer pulp than wine grapes. This not only makes them more pleasant and appealing to eat, but it also makes them hold up to the rigors of being transported long distances to your local market. As a consequence, grape you buy at the store tend to have less juice in relation to the amount of pulp.
The juice you get from the eating grapes is also not as sweet as the juice from wine grapes. A typical brix reading for table grapes is 17 to 19, whereas wine grapes are around 24 to 26 brix. This is important because it is the sugar that gets turned into alcohol during a fermentation — less sugar, less alcohol.
*Brix is a scale that represents the amount of sugar in a liquid as a percentage. It is the standard scale used by refractometers which are used to take these readings in the vineyard.
Another significant difference is that the acidity level of table grapes tend to be slightly lower that the average wine grape. This is to increase the grapes impression of sweetness while on the market.
Having said all this, you can learn how to make your own wine using grapes you buy from the grocery store. You can run them through grape presses to get all the pulp out of the way. You can add extra sugar to bring the brix level up to that of a wine grape juice. And, you can adjust the acidity of the juice by adding acid blend to raise the acid level to what's need for wine.
But all of this will not change the leading factor that makes a table grape far different from a wine grape... and that is flavor. While table grapes taste fine for popping into your mouth as a snack, once fermented, the flavor of the resulting wine is fairly uneventful and could also be described as non-existent.
While table grapes could be used for learning how to make your own wine – as a practice run, so to speak – do not expect this wine to bring any enthusiastic raves from family, friends and neighbors. The wine will be drinkable and may even be pleasant, but it will not be stellar.
Mert, I hope this answers your question about table grapes and wine grapes. It is a question that we get fairly often, so I plan on posting it on our wine making blog. If you have anymore questions, just let us know. We want to do everything we can to help you become a successful home winemaker.
Happy Wine Making
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.