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Table grapes, wine grapes - the difference

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A grape is a grape, according to Jim Howard of the California Table Grape Commission.

While you can eat wine grapes and you can turn table grapes into wine, for the most part grapes are cultivated for use as one or the other.

OAS_AD('Button20'); Wine grapes must have a fairly high sugar content because part of the sugar will be converted into alcohol during fermentation, and there must be enough of it for that process.

"A vintner will tell you that a wine grape wants to suffer. The suffering produces smaller grapes with thicker skins, which means more tannins for the wine," Howard says.

Wine grapes generally are harvested by hand and carefully handled to avoid crushing or bruising in the field.

When table grapes are harvested, also by hand, each bunch is trimmed, inspected and boxed in the field to avoid crushing. Then they are taken to cold storage before shipping to grocery stores.

And where do raisins come from? "Raisins can be made with many varieties of grapes, although the Thompson seedless is the most common raisin grape. Raisins are basically dried table grapes, but they don't need to be as plump and juicy," Howard says.

"There are now grape varieties designed to be used for raisins. They can be dried on the vine and harvested mechanically, so they are trellised differently than wine or table grapes."

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