Wine grapes are too thick-skinned for eating

Posted: October 11, 2012

Buzz: Marnie, do they ever sell wine grapes for eating? I'd love to buy some of those green pinot grigio grapes.

Marnie: Very few wine grapes make good eating; they have thick skins and big seeds. But you wouldn't find green pinot grigio anyway. It's a red-skinned grape.

Buzz: That's impossible. Even I know pinot grigio is a white wine.

Marnie: You're right about that, Buzz, but it's perfectly possible to make white wines from red grapes.

Buzz: I think you're pulling my leg. What will you tell me next, that chardonnay grapes are red?

Marnie: No. Most of the grapes we grow for white wine, like chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, are green. But there are a few, like pinot grigio and gew├╝rztraminer, that look red in the vineyard.

Buzz: If they're red, how can they make white wine?

Marnie: In white winemaking, we press the grapes right away and use only the juice, throwing away the skins. This lets us make white wine from any color grapes. After all, when we cut grapes open, they're always clear inside, no matter what color they are on the outside.

Buzz: Weird. If pinot grigio is a red grape, how come we don't see a pinot grigio red wine?

Marnie: Pinot grigio is the Italian name of a French grape called pinot gris, or gray pinot. It is a mutation of pinot noir, or black pinot, a dark purple grape that makes fine red wines. Pinot gris skins are paler - not blue-purple but a reddish color like the Red Flame grapes at the grocery store. They look pinky-purple but don't have enough color saturation to turn a wine inky red. So we toss the skins and ferment the juice into white wine.

Buzz: Mutant grapes? Great idea for my Halloween costume!


Marnie Old is Philadelphia's

highest-profile sommelier. She has

designed wine lists for restaurants

like Parc and Bar Ferdinand. Her

latest book, "Wine Secrets," is a

collection of wine advice shared by

top wine professionals. Marnie

consults for the Pennsylvania

Liquor Control Board and is an

adviser to the beverage trade.

Check out her blog at

sauceblog.marnieold.com. Buzz's

musings are interpreted by Daily

News City Editor Gar Joseph.

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