The grapevine is the basic raw material of a very popular alcoholic drink – wine.
Its grapes contain a high amount of nutrients and antioxidants.
It is also used in gastronomy. How can you process and consume it?
You will learn all this in the following article!
Vine, the basis of the miracle elixir
The grapevine, Vitis in Latin, is considered one of the most important fruit crops in the world. This is for reasons of economic value and scale of cultivation.
This crop began to be cultivated more than 8000 years ago. Yeast, which is part of the skins of grapes, is used to produce alcoholic beverages, especially wine. In ancient times, due to the lack of water, wine became a necessary necessity of life, it became a symbol of nutrition and life. Research is still ongoing to investigate why wine is considered one of the most powerful elixirs known to man. The first mention of wine production comes from Georgia 8,000 years ago.
We can consider the ancient Greeks, Cypriots, Phoenicians and Romans to be the greatest cultivators of history. They all grew vines primarily for food and wine production. From Europe, the cultivation of this crop spread to North Africa and America.
Grape vines come in different colors, they are green, red, black, yellow and pink. There are seeded and seedless varieties. You can also consume them in different forms, for example as raisins.
Why consume grapevines?
As already mentioned, the vine is most often consumed in the form of an alcoholic drink – wine. A glass of wine has been found to have a number of benefits.
Wine has undergone numerous studies that have found various connections between the improvement of quality of life and its consumption.
First, remember that quantity matters, and most studies show results in glasses per day or week. Enjoy every sip of your wine, try to feel every texture and aroma of your wine. Drink it slowly.
Compounds in grapes may protect against heart disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Grapes are rich in antioxidants, which are beneficial plant compounds that can protect against chronic disease. They can prevent the growth and spread of various types of cancer.
Although grapes are high in sugar, their low to moderate glycemic index makes them relatively safe to eat in moderation if you have diabetes. In addition, compounds in grapes may protect against high blood sugar.
Grapes contain several compounds—such as resveratrol, lutein, and zeaxanthin—that may help prevent common eye diseases. Resveratrol, found in grapes, has been shown to activate genes associated with slower signs of aging and longer lifespan.
They also contain compounds that may improve memory, attention, and mood, as well as protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Grapes are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that can improve the quality of your sleep.
Grapes contain many important vitamins and minerals, including potassium, calcium, and vitamins C and E. Additional nutritional values can be seen in the table below:
|Nutritional values||Vine grapes 100 g|
|Vitamin C||3.2 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.19 mg|
Types of vines
There are more than 10,000 types of vines in the world. Some of them are used for consumption and others for making wine.
Let’s imagine the most used grape varieties.
Merlot, in Latin Cercis canadensis ‘Merlot’, is considered one of the most famous grape varieties grown in France.
Bordeaux red blends that use Merlot are full-bodied and tart with a velvety tannic mouthfeel and fruity flavors.
Merlot is widely grown outside of France – in California, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and South Africa.
The Cabernet Sauvignon variety, Latin Vitis vinifera ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’, is grown as a random cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
In cooler climates it produces paler and highly acidic grapes, while in warmer regions they are darker, densely flavored and slightly acidic.
Red wine grape variety. Syrah is the original name of the variety originating from the northern and southern Rhone regions of France, while Shiraz is its Australian name.
It is a vine with an intense spicy and fruity aroma. An interesting fact is that the Syrah variety is also used in the production of sparkling wine.
Muscat, a name derived from the Latin word musca, refers to a group of 200 grape varieties used to make various wines around the world.
Muscat wines are aromatic with spicy and floral notes.
One of the varieties is, for example, Muskat momjanski, a Croatian grape variety that is used to make sweet dessert wines.
Pinot Gris vine
Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio is a mutant variant of the Pinot Noir grape, originating from Burgundy, France.
This variety is mainly grown in France and Italy, but has also spread to Switzerland, Hungary and Germany.
The grapes produce white, pink and orange wines with fine acidity and citrus notes.
An excellent dry white wine is produced from the Sauvignon Blanc variety. It is grown in various wine regions (especially New Zealand), although its roots come from the Bordeaux region of France.
Sauvignon Blanc is popular among wine lovers for its intense aromas and delicate palate of elderberry, gooseberry, passion fruit, green olives and asparagus.
Chardonnay is one of the most widespread white wine varieties originating from France. Chardonnay grapes are an integral part of sparkling wines such as Champagne.
The taste notes of Chardonnay wines are reminiscent of apples, tropical fruits, vanilla and coconut.
What is the difference between food grapes and wine grapes?
Grapes can be divided into table grapes or wine grapes. Table grapes are used for consumption in the raw state, wine grapes are used to make wine.
While almost all of them belong to the same species, Vitis vinifera, table and wine grapes have significant differences due to selective breeding.
Table grapes have large seedless fruits with a relatively thin skin. Grapevine grapes are smaller, usually seeded, and have a relatively thick skin.
Wine grapes have a surprisingly higher sugar content (22% to 30%) than table grapes (10% to 15%).
How to grow grapevines?
Grape vines are not only great for eating, juicing and making wine, they are also a beautiful ornamental plant.
It should be planted in early spring and harvested in late summer or early fall. Don’t forget to prune the vine at the end of winter.
There are three main types of grapes to consider for home growing. American (Vitis labrusca), European (V. vinifera) and French-American hybrids.
American grapes are the most cold hardy, while European grapes are usually better for winemaking than for consumption. Hybrids tend to be hardy and disease resistant, but not as tasty as European grapes.
When buying seedlings, make sure you buy the vine from a reputable nursery. Large, annual plants are best. If possible, get certified virus-free plants.
Choose a warm place with plenty of sunlight for the vine. The soil must be deep, well-drained and breathable. Support must be in place when planting, one option is a robust trellis or gazebo.
You do not need to fertilize the vines in the first year unless you have problem soil. Fertilize it slightly in the second year of growth.
Pruning is very important. The grapes bear fruit on shoots growing from one-year canes. If you have too many old sticks, you will get less grapes. If the grapes are not ripening, pinch off some of the leaves to let in more sunlight.
The grapes are ready to harvest when they are rich in color, juicy, full of flavor, easy to crush and plump. They should be firmly attached to the stems.
Grapes can be stored in the cellar for up to six weeks, but they can absorb the odors of other fruits and vegetables, so store them separately. Use cardboard boxes or crates lined with clean, dry straw.
Most vines in the Czech Republic are grown in the areas of South Moravia, in Litoměřice and Mělnick.
Most often, grapevine grapes are used to make wine. In the following tables you can see the nutritional values of individual types of wine – white, rose and red:
|Nutritional values||White wine 100 ml|
Rose wine, compared to white wine, contains more carbohydrates, but less potassium.
|Nutritional values||Rose wine 100 ml|
Red wine has the highest amount of potassium and iron of all varieties.
|Nutritional values|| Red wine 100 ml|
If you decide to make homemade wine, you will need :
- 1.5 to 2 cups of sugar
- 1 packet of yeast
- 2 liters of grape juice
- measuring cup
- Mix grape juice and 1.5 cups of sugar in a bottle. If you want the wine less alcoholic, add 1 cup, if you want the wine more alcoholic, add 2 cups.
- Screw on tightly and shake the bottle for about one minute.
- Add one package of yeast.
- Wait 5 minutes for the yeast to rise.
- Shake again, about 10 to 15 seconds.
- Remove the cap from the bottle and place a balloon on the neck of the bottle. It functions as an air chamber. You can also fasten the balloon to the neck with rubber bands.
- Store the bottle in a cool, dark place. At this point, yeast will begin to form.
- After a few weeks, the yeast dies and stops producing carbon dioxide, causing the balloon to deflate. At that point, the wine is ready!
- Still strain the wine into a new bottle to get rid of any sediment.
Consume the finished wine or add it to a number of dishes such as:
- sauteed chorizo with red wine
- shallots and red wine sauce
- chicken in red wine with herb dumpling
- mulled wine brownies
- beef in red wine with carrots
You can also dry the grapes of the vine, you will get raisins. You can add them, for example, to strudel or use them in baked tea. It is a good idea to dry grapes in fruit dryers to prevent possible mould. If you don’t know which dryer to choose, read fruit dryer reviews .
Grape juice – obtained by crushing and blending grapes into a liquid. Grape juice is fermented and made into wine, brandy or vinegar.
Wine vinegar – in French, vinegar means sour (“aigre”) wine (“vin”). High-quality vinegars are most advantageous than the wines from which they are made.
Grape jam – made from crushed grapes, they have a sweet, slightly sour taste.
A number of studies have shown that wine prolongs life and improves its quality. Thanks to flavonoids, grapevines have strong antioxidant effects and thus prevent chronic diseases. In addition, it contains a high amount of potassium, calcium and vitamin C. So include grapes in your diet, one glass of wine a week will definitely not harm your body.