There are over 100 varieties of grape, and they’re all different.
Some grapes produce only red wines, while others produce only whites. Some grapes grow best in certain climates or require a lot of water.
What is the difference between wine grapes vs table grapes? Can you eat wine grapes or make wine from table grapes?
We’ll answer these questions and more, so keep reading!
Wine Grapes vs Table Grapes – 3 Big Differences
The 3 main reasons why table grapes and wine grapes are different are sugar content, skin thickness, and acidity.
These qualities also make them grow and taste differently so they’re better suited for their purpose.
The sugar content in wine grapes is much higher than in table grapes. Part of this is because wine grapes grow small and aren’t harvested until they’re fully ripe.
The skins on wine grapes are thicker, imparting tannins to wine that are not present in table grapes.
The thin skin on table grapes makes them easy and refreshing to eat off the vine.
Wine grapes are much more acidic than table grapes. Acidity is required to age wine.
The low acidity in table grapes means that the juice can’t age and develop flavor like wine grapes do.
Read More: What Happens if You Drink Old Wine? Can old wine make you sick? Here’s everything you need to know before you pick up that ancient bottle of wine.
What Are Wine Grapes?
Wine grapes are smaller in size and are grown in a more specific climate than table grapes.
They’re often grown on hillsides and need sun exposure at certain times of the day to develop a specific flavor.
Wine grapes are tiny and grow on dense clusters. They can be any color, but they are never harvested until fully ripe or the wine will have bitter flavors.
Wine grapes have more sugar content than table grapes and a more concentrated flavor, making them ideal for producing alcohol.
Grapes with high sugar concentration are favorites for making dessert wines.
Wine grapes have thicker skin which produces the tannic flavor that is characteristic in wine.
They also have high acid which makes wine that can successfully age for months or years.
When it comes to production, wine grapes are grafted onto grapevines for easy harvest.
They’re also planted closer together, allowing easier packing and transportation from the vineyard to the winery.
Table grapes can be produced under the same conditions as regular crops like corn or wheat; they don’t require any special handling or care.
What Are Table Grapes?
Table grapes are large, juicy, and have less sugar content than wine grapes. They also have much lower acid than wine grapes. This makes them perfect for eating fresh, but poor for making wine.
Table grapes grow in large clusters that are much less dense than wine grapes because the grapes are so big and round or oblong.
There is a fraction of the number of grapes per cluster due to the size.
The main reason table grapes are not used for wine is their low acidity. Acid in wine grapes allows them to be aged for months or years.
The best quality table grapes come from California and Chile because they grow year-round – though most table grapes come from California, a growing number come from Chile.
These two countries have climates similar to those suited for producing wine, which means that their climate is ideal for growing table and wine grapes!
However, if you want to grow table or wine grapes yourself, you’ll want to check with local agricultural agencies first.
For example, California has strict rules in place as far as wine grapes are concerned, and you’ll need to meet the requirements for planting these types of grapes before you can start growing them.
Some areas, like California, Oregon, and Washington have banned the import of competitive fruit varieties, including grapes, to protect native species or to protect the in-state grape industry.
Table grape varieties are also used for making grape juice and raisins or sultanas.
Read our related article, What is Table Wine? for more information!
How Do You Know if a Grape Is for Wine or for Eating?
Wine grapes have thicker skin, seeds, and higher sugar content. There isn’t any reason to not eat wine grapes, it just is a less pleasurable experience than eating table grapes.
Table grapes are cultivated to be plump, juicy, usually seedless, and have very thin skin. There are no unpleasant flavors left in your mouth from a table grape.
The grapes you find in any market are always table grapes. If you’re at a farm and find grapes they’re nearly always table grapes. When in doubt, ask the farmer.
If the grapes are growing on a large trellis with giant clusters hanging down, they’re likely table grapes.
Wine grapes typically don’t have as good production per acre as table grapes.
Did you know that your table grapes are packed for sale in the field? Watch table grapes being harvested in California in this short video.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What do wine grapes taste like?
A: Wine grapes are very small with thick skin. They are sweeter than table grapes and have many seeds.
The flavor of wine grapes can be strong or subtle, depending on the variety. The small size makes the flavor and sugars concentrated.
Q: What do table grapes taste like?
A: Table-grape varieties are large with thin skin and usually have no seeds. The flavor can be very mild or very prominent, depending on the variety.
Table grapes are very juicy and easy to eat.
Q: What Type of Grapes Are Used For Grape Juice?
Grape juice can be made from any type of grapes, but the most popular are Concord grapes which go into purple grape juice.
The flavor is concentrated and sweet, making a delicious drinking experience.
If other grape varieties are used, it may be necessary to add sugar to make it palatable.
It’s very hard to find wine grapes for sale so you can eat them.
If you want wine grapes you’ll have to contact a vineyard to arrange to get some because the crop is typically presold before it’s grown or harvested.
Table grapes are grown for mass consumption, so they’re easy to find at any store or farmer’s market.