There are two basic types of grapes, American and European. Today, both are grown in the United States, but the European grapes are more popular and versatile. Seeded varieties are thought to have better flavor than seedless, but Americans—who tend to eat grapes as a snack rather than as a dessert—seem to prefer the convenience of seedless grapes. The list that follows covers the major (and a few minor) varieties of grapes, both seeded and seedless, grown in this country.
Types of Grapes
Black Beauty (Beauty Seedless):These are the only seedless black grapes. They are spicy and sweet, resembling Concords in flavor.
Calmeria grapes: These pale green, oval grapes are so elongated that they are sometimes called Lady Finger grapes. They have a mildly sweet flavor, comparatively thick skin, and a few small seeds.
Cardinal grapes: A cross between the Flame Tokay and the Ribier, these large, dark red grapes have a pearly gray finish, a full, fruity flavor, and few seeds.
Champagne grapes (Black Corinth): These grapes are tiny, purple seedless fruits with a deliciously winy sweetness. They are called champagne grapes because someone thought the cluster of small grapes resembled champagne bubbles. In their dried form, these grapes are called currants. Note: These are not the dried fruit of the currant plant, but a mispronunciation of the grape’s name, Corinth.
Emperor grapes:These small-seeded red grapes may vary in color from red-violet to deep purple. Their flavor is mild and somewhat cherry-like (they have a lower sugar content than many other table grapes). Thick-skinned Emperors are good shippers and stand up well to consumer handling. They also store well, lengthening their period of availability.
Exotic grapes:These blue-black grapes are seeded and firm-fleshed, and resemble Ribiers.
Flame Seedless grapes: Second only to Thompson Seedless in quantity grown, these round, pink to red, seedless grapes are sweet-tart and crunchy.
Italia grapes (Italia Muscat):This variety has taken the place of the older Muscat varieties, which today are mainly used for making wine. Muscats are large, greenish-gold, seeded grapes with a winy sweetness and fragrance. The Italias have a milder flavor than the older varieties.
Perlette Seedless grapes:These round, crisp, green grapes have a frosty-white “bloom” on their surface.
Queengrapes:These large, firm grapes are rusty-red in color and have a mildly sweet flavor.