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The Differences between Table Grapes and Wine Grapes

There are thousands of grape varieties grown all around the world, but what differentiates a wine grape from a table grape? Keep on reading to find out the main differences between the two types. 

We can all tell a white wine from a red wine, but that’s not always the case when it comes to grapes. If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t go to the greengrocers or the supermarket to buy grapes and turn them into wine... Don’t worry, many other people have pondered this very same question at some point in time. But not many people have dared to ask! 

The difference stems all the way back the the vineyard and the vines that have been planted... We’ll tell you about all the basic concepts that differentiate table grapes from wine grapes.

Diferencias entre uvas de mesa y uvas de vino

Growing and Producing Grapes

Wine grapes are often grown on a slope, and they need to be exposed to the sun at certain times of day to develop a certain flavour. However, unlike table grapes, they don't need a warm climate. What’s more, it’s not recommendable for them to be exposed to huge amount of sunlight for a large swathe of their life cycle.

They grow in dense bunches and can be of any colour, but they're never harvested until they’re fully ripe, otherwise the wine might end up with a bitter flavour.

Table grapes can be produced under the same conditions as regular crops, such as wheat or corn, in areas with mild or warm temperatures. As such, they are generally grown in Mediterranean climates. They are planted in areas where the soil is particularly rich in nutrients, and the vines grow at their maximum production capacity.  

Another difference in terms of their growing process is how they are planted: new vines for wine production are grafted on to the rootstock to make them easier to harvest. This also makes them easier to package up and transport to the winery from the vineyard.

Although wine grapes are more commonly grown, table grapes have much higher yields. In one single agricultural cycle, a grower can get three times as many table grapes as they could wine grapes. 

This difference is connected with the methods they use for growing the two types of grapes. Table-grape vineyards are generally grown along vertical trellises that help to space out the grapes and prevent overcrowding. 

Diferencias entre uvas de mesa y uvas de vino

Species of Grapes

Most grapes used in wine-making come from the Vitis vinifera species, which is native to the Mediterranean, including Europe and the Middle East.

Some table grapes also come from this species, but others come from species such as Vitis labrusca and Vitis rotundifolia. The latter two might not make for great wines, but they are delicious to eat. 

The Size of Table Grapes and Wine Grapes

When it comes to making the best wines, the smaller the grape the better. The sugar condenses and thickens when it is in a smaller membrane. With less space for water, wine grapes are mainly fruit juice and seeds. 

The sugar content of the grapes when harvested is around 25 to 30%, while table grapes only contain around 10 to 15% sugar, and the rest is water. Wine grapes spoil much quicker, which is why wineries start fermenting them right next to the vineyards.

Wine fermentation is the stage in the production process in which the must becomes wine.  

In this respect, another difference we can note is that wine grapes are far more acidic than table grapes. Acidity is necessary for ageing the wine. The low level of acidity in table grapes does not allow their juice to age or develop its flavour like wine grapes do.

Diferencias entre uvas de mesa y uvas de vino

Thickness of the Grape Skin

The thickness of the grape skins is another important difference between the types of grapes. When it comes to table grapes, they have a very thin skin, which is not suitable for fermentation. Having thinner skins means that these grapes are easier to eat and more delicious.

Wine grapes have thicker and heavier skins that get even better during fermentation. Their thicker skins and seeds with tannins make the wines drier, which means that wine grapes have more concentrated flavours.

Another difference to take into account lies in the flesh. The flesh of table grapes is normally firmer and more compact, but in wine grapes it is juicier and softer. 

o, What Are Raisins?

Raisins are naturally sweet and rich in sugar and calories, but they also contain fibre, antioxidants and important minerals such as iron.

There are two ways of producing them: drying them outdoors in well-ventilated spaces or by applying artificial heat to them. To create them, the grapes need to be sweet and not particularly large in size with a low level of acidity. Because of this, not all grapes are suitable for making raisins. The three most common species of grapes used for making raisins are Muscat, Black Corinth and Sultana.

Did you know these main differences between table grapes and wine grapes? You can learn more about wine-making and the different stages involved in this process: from harvesting to bottling.  

How Wine Is Made

Now, if you want to try an El Coto de Rioja wine, you can find a selection of crianza, reserve, white and rosé wines, all from the Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin on our online store. 

El Coto de Rioja store