What do wine grapes taste like?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

What do wine grapes taste like?

—Mitchell, Fairfield, Ohio

Dear Mitchell,

Table grapes—the grapes you can buy at the grocery store and surely have eaten before—are big, crunchy and a bit tart, with thin skins. Wine grapes are smaller, with sweeter flesh but chewier, thicker skins and a higher ratio of skin to pulp, and they have seeds. Wine grapes tend to smell great, but if you pop one in your mouth, you’ll probably be left with a bitter impression from the skins and seeds. That's why you don't see Cabernet or Chardonnay grapes for sale at the grocery store. Muscat grapes are the only grapes I know of that are both wine grapes and good to eat, and you might see them at the market during harvest season.

It’s fascinating to watch winemakers taste grapes when determining when to start harvesting. They typically chew on them for a moment and then spit them out, or they’ll squeeze them to take a look at the color of the seeds, or see how easily they pull off of the vine. If you’re ever around a vineyard during harvesttime, ask to try one.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Should wine bottles be regularly rotated?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the riddling process for sparkling wine, and why …

Jan 24, 2020

My wine fridge has an odor. Is it safe to store my wines inside plastic bags?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips on cleaning a wine cooler and bottle storage.

Jan 22, 2020

What's the best way to warm up a cold glass of wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips for warming up a glass of wine.

Jan 20, 2020

What is a "grower" Champagne?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what a récoltant-manipulant is, and what makes …

Jan 17, 2020

How do you identify flavors in wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how.

Jan 15, 2020

How long does an open bottle of red wine keep?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains oxidation, and how to delay it.

Jan 13, 2020
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search