With 60 varieties of vining plants and an estimated 10,000 types of grapes, we have got ourselves a good selection of table grapes, raisins, jams, and wine. Here are 11 facts you might not know about grapes.
- The study of grapes is called Viticulture. If you break it down, this means vine culture. Pretty accurate.
- Grapes were first domesticated in Georgia. The earliest known cultivation of domesticated grapes occurred in the Caucasus region of Eurasia about 6,000 BCE.
- 70% of farmed grapes are used for making wine. The largest wine producer in the world being - you guessed it - Italy. Italy, France, and Spain together make up half of the world's wine production.
- Green grapes and red grapes can come from the same vine! Green grapes are a genetic mutation that turns off the production of anthocyanin, which is responsible for the colour of the red grape.
- Ancient Greeks took their wine very seriously. In Greece, a dinner without wine was once considered “a dog’s dinner”.
- Even babies drank wine in ancient Greece. At this time water was not reliably safe so wine was mixed with water and served throughout the day. When it came to parties, It was the host who determined the ratio of water to wine, the size of the wine cups, and how many rounds of wine would be served. Most often, a 50-50 ratio with 3 rounds.
- Seedless grapes can still reproduce. Instead of using seeds for reproduction, they come from cuttings. A piece of the vine is cut off, dipped in a rooting hormone and then placed in moist dirt to grow. This is actually true for blueberries, apples, and cherries as well.
- Concord grapes grow famously in the regions surrounding Lake Ontario. These are the grapes that make grape juice.
- The man who invented grape juice was a dentist. Thomas Welch was a dentist from New Jersey who pioneered the pasteurization of grape juice in 1889 to stop it from fermenting and turning into wine. Welch wanted to have a substitute for wine in churches. It has now become a ubiquitous item in the juice aisle of most superstores.
- Red wine beats white wine in the antioxidant department. Resveratrol is found in the skins and seeds of the grape, of all colours and varieties. White wine is fermented without the seeds and skins. That is why red wine offers health benefits that are not found in white wine.
- Many grape crops are still hand-picked. Although some of the grape crops are harvested mechanically, plenty of grapes are still picked by the hands of hundreds of farmers who head into the vineyard each year at this time, as well as in January for the icewine harvest.
Coronation grapes are in season for a short time in Ontario. There are only a few weeks that we can enjoy these sweet-fleshed and tart-skinned grapes at their peak ripeness. Some of our favourite ways to eat them - beyond snacking on them like popcorn - are roasting them in the oven on toast or, for an extra special treat, used in this Tuscan recipe: Grape Schiacciata.