If you’re looking for the best types of red berries, you’ve come to the right place! Yes, you read that right, it’s true!
Now that we have your attention, grapes, by formal botanical definition, are considered berries due to the firm definition of having soft fleshy insides without the results of stones developing from a single flower containing one ovary. These curious berry-like fruits also have thick leather-like coverings resembling that of their cousin, the blueberry.
Keep reading as we discuss the most favored red grape varieties found in these classic ancient fruits. Traditionally, red grapes come in different flavors and sizes and are used in many ways. Learn why the grape is labeled one of the most versatile fruits, as you can enjoy raw red grapes, classics such as wines, jellies, raisins, juices, and even baked goods.
A Handful of Juicy Facts About Grapes
First, here are a few juicy facts about these fresh fruits. Did you know the world grows about seventy-two million tons of grapes per year? That’s a lot of grapes! We think it’s safe to assume at least half of these are red.
The three typical uses for grapes are fresh table varieties, raisins, and making wine. What variety is your favorite, and how do you prepare your grapes? In our research, we were tickled to find out titles of wine are actually the variety of grape and not just the kind of wine.
Lastly, grapes are not only well-known and tasty but serve as a great source of antioxidants and are labeled a superfood! Grapes additionally are excellent vitamin A, C, B6, and folate sources. They help prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
The Most Favored Red Grape Varieties
Now that we know more about grapes let’s look at the most known red grape varieties available.
1. Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is a high-quality grape variety found in most climates and recognized as a popular red wine grape in most wine-producing countries. Cabernet Sauvignon became famous in the district of Bordeaux after its repetitive use for red wine. California’s known as the leading grower of this grape variety. Due to its tannic qualities in winemaking, it’s often blended with other grape types.
The flavor of this red grape is unique and varies depending on where it’s grown. It’s famous for its “green bell pepper” flavor as a result of pyrazine along with notes of black current and black cherry.
2. Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a troublesome variety grown mainly in cooler climates. Pinot Noir is generally used to make varieties of red wine worldwide but can also make champagne, sparkling white wines, and English sparkling wines.
Depending on the region it’s grown, the taste of a Pinot Noir grape typically has a slight spice with cherry and strawberry-like undertones.
Merlot is another red wine grape variety with prominent historical ties to Bordeaux and the southwest of France. Merlot has similar flavors to Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and is even in the same family regarding flavor profiles.
The main difference found between these two red grape varieties is Merlot grapes have thinner grape skin and are less astringent with fewer, softer tannis. Merlot also tends to retain a fruitier, less complex body. Again the climate is everything when it comes to flavors. You can taste undertones of cocoa, vanilla, and various earthy tones.
4. Syrah/ Shiraz
Syrah, also known as Shiraz grapes, are grown worldwide, with varying soil structures in all climate types. Syrah grapes were born out of two lesser-known grape varieties, Mondeuse Blanche and Dureza, from Southeastern France.
Syrah grapes grown in warmer climates will likely yield bigger-bodied wine with juicier fruits, smoother tannins, and secondary spice notes. Conversely, when Syrah is grown in cooler temperatures, they produce fewer jammy fruits, bolder spices, and earthy complexities with harsher tannins.
Red Zinfandel grapes are a trendy black and blue-skinned grape variety mostly grown within the U.S. Depending on harvest times and peak ripeness, Zinfandel grapes stick to more red fruit flavors in cooler climates. On the other hand, warmer weather causes these grapes to contain black fruit and pepper tastes.
Zinfandel grapes are jam-packed with flavors and resemble ripe red fruits. Characteristic flavors include raspberry, raisin, cranberry, cassis, and plum. In addition, you’ll experience earthy and spicy undertones such as black pepper spice, tobacco, dry barnyard door, and coffee.
You can use Concord grapes as table grapes, in juices, and occasionally in sacrificial wines. Concords are mostly the main ingredient in grape jelly, grape juice, pies, and even candy and soft drinks. These red grapes can be enjoyed raw and are also a great natural source of Vitamin C.
When it comes to taste, Concords are found to have a deep, sweet flavor, finished off with a tartness that keeps them from being too sweet or overbearing. During the peak of harvest time, you’ll find ripe concords at their sweetest.
7. Crimson Seedless
Crimson Seedless grapes are a crisp, juicy, red, seedless variety of table grapes initially bred in California and released to industry in Western Australia in 1996. You’ll find Crimson Seedless to be the most popular type of table grapes sold in stores.
As far as flavor profile, Crimson Seedless grapes have a thick skin and firm texture with the right twist of sweetness versus tartness. A Crimson Seedless grape’s thick skin helps keep ripe grapes juicy longer and gives them additional extended shelf lives.
Not to be confused with grapes used in making celebratory wines, Champagne grapes, also known as Zante Currant or Black Corinth, were first grown in Asia and Greece. However, today you can mainly find them in Europe and the United States.
This tiny red grape is popular among chefs due to its sweetness and notes of tartness. You’ll find Champagne grapes traditionally paired with other table grape varieties. These small grapes are used in pastries, scones, muffins, and cakes. Also, try this grape variety atop oatmeal, granola, and other cereals. Due to their sweetness, they also pair well with yogurts and ice cream.
From the recent perspective of a professional Las Vegas chef and wine sommelier, she spoke of her favorite uses for champagne grapes. She told us champagne grapes were great for plating or accompanying dishes due to their size and taste. In addition, using fresh garnishes will give your dishes an overall organic, inviting, and colorful presentation.
The Norton grape is an official favorite in Missouri. This summer red grape variety is native to eastern North America and found in Ontario and all the way to southern Florida and Texas. After Norton’s were made widely available in 1830, they took a commanding lead across Eastern and Midwestern America.
A Norton grapes’ flavor carries lower acidity than what’s found in traditional American grape varieties. Due to low acidity levels, Norton’s are best used in dry wines. The health benefits found in this deep purple-colored grape are high, as it’s packed with loads of healthy antioxidants. Norton grapes taste more meaty than fruity and give off notes of elderberries, plums, and even bittersweet chocolate.
Finally, the popular Catawba grape is a close cousin to the beloved Concord grape.
Catawba grapes ripen later in season and were once the most planted grape in the nineteenth century. These red grapes can be paired with Champagne grapes and go perfectly in sparkling wines. Catawba grapes have a “foxy” or musky flavor.
Wrapping Up Favored Red Grapes
After reading our guide on the most favored red grape varieties, we hope you enjoyed learning about red grapes’ flavor profiles, characteristics and uses.
Along with learning fun facts, not everyone realizes grapes carry names first and that most wine types are labeled afterward. Did you have a favorite red grape variety stand out from our list you’re now dying to try?
To learn more about grapes, click here for our other grapes blog posts.