One or two thoughts about making wine from table grapes.

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BernardSmith

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Just because I could and I wanted to I started a gallon of wine from table grapes I purchased from my local supermarket. I had found about 4 recipes from a book published at the turn of the 20th Century written by a home wine maker of country wines and the author, Peggy Hutchinson, suggested that the table grapes she used made very drinkable wines
Bought about 8 lbs of grapes and crushed each one by hand, added about 2 lbs of sugar , some tannin and some tartaric acid and after 3 days macerating and no apparent action by indigenous yeast I felt forced to add some yeast (Premiere Classique). The wine has been sitting on the skins for 2 weeks and the only color I was able to extract is a rose'.
Just pressed (by hand), after blending the fruit a few days ago (no seeds) to extract all the juice I could. Have racked the "wine" into a carboy and it is still bubbling away with gravity today is 1.025 (after two weeks) but the flavor is not so much awful as flavorless. Not surprising but still very disappointing.
What I may do is blend this "wine" with some mead and make a pyment but what I wanted to do was to see what kind of wine my great grandparents occasionally made in their tenement in Glasgow. If the table grapes we have here in upstate NY are anything like the table grapes they were able to buy in Scotland I gotta say their wine could not have been all that wonderful.
 

Tim3

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Interesting story, thanks for sharing! I’ve heard wine made from table grapes (concord, niagara, thompson, etc) can range from flavorless to foxy, but usually no one raves about it. I don’t know what kind of grapes were up in Scotland, but the grapes being shipped to NY during prohibition were often vitis vinifera varieties (typically Alicante or Zinfandel shipped from CA, Alicante being popular because it was so thick skinned and didn’t mold easily) so it’s possible they were actually making very good wine. In the 30’s my grandpa and great grandparents used to make wine in the bronx with their neighbors. From the stories the wine was very good but usually drunk very young, still cloudy, and with quite a bit of sediment. Anyway, I loved hearing those stories!
 

BernardSmith

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Thanks, Tim. Table grapes are not wine grapes. They are grown for eating. Concord and Niagara are native American grapes that can be made into wine but their taste is an acquired one (in my opinion). Table grapes are often Thompson grapes (though not always)...
 

winemaker81

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Bernard, this is a great experiment, regardless of how well (or not) the wine turns out.

If the wine is that flavorless, you may be wasting good mead. A better use may be cooking wine.

Yeah, a lot of wine made BITD, or even now, is not that good by our standards. But when it's all ya got? It works! That said, I'm happy to have what I have. :)
 

Sailor323

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I made quite a bit of wine with Reliance table grapes for a few years. I thought it was a decent wine, very light, fruity and flowery
 

winemaker81

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I made quite a bit of wine with Reliance table grapes for a few years. I thought it was a decent wine, very light, fruity and flowery
It's not hard to believe that the variety of table grape makes as much difference as the choice of wine grape. Where is Reliance grown? Mostly I see red and white Thompson seedless, with occasional no-name varieties.
 

Al Hatfield

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Also don’t forget that the way table grapes have been modified and are grown to be much larger and more juicy now than they probably were back then. That means theirs was a lower juice to skin ratio which probably added more flavor. Not to mention they may not have had seedless back then. I wonder how it would turn out if you tried organically grown table grapes with seeds. Fun and interesting experiment either way.
 

MHSKIBUM

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It's no surprise that the taste is poor. Over the past thousand years or so mankind has determined which grapes work best for wine and they ain't table grapes.
Colour, flavour intensity from table grape skins is another issue.
On advice from this forum, I've experimented with enhancing the colour and taste of cheap wine kit reds with black table grape skins.
Initial observations tell me the blackest grapes can help achieve a deeper, richer red colour. I've recently added Sable and Sapphire (the long ones) grape skins to cheaper wine kits. I'm happy with the colour but unsure how much the taste will improve (or lower) in the long term, which is supposed to be the true test.
They taste okay so far after full processing and a month's racking. I'm anxious to try a taste comparison after maturing for six months.
 
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