Plump and juicy, grapes come in colors ranging from jade green to lustrous blue-black. Wine grapes are harvested to make into wine, while table grapes are selected for sweet, full flavor, thin skins, and little or no seeds. Nearly all American-grown fresh grapes are grown in California and are picked when ripe by hand. Grapes are generally categorized by color and all colors have seedless varieties available.
Grapes are one of those fruits we’ve gotten used to seeing in grocery stores all year long. But those bland, lifeless bunches bear almost no resemblance to the grapes you’ll find at farmers’ markets in the fall season. Like any fruit at its prime, fall grapes are as good as they come: plump, fragrant, juicy—literally bursting with flavor. Fall is also the time of year when you’ll come across the widest variety of grapes, here are a few of our favorites:
Autumn Royal grapes have large, oval-shaped black berries. Sweet and straightforward, these seedless grapes pair well with salty foods like prosciutto and salted nuts.
Champagne grapes have delicate, sweet, pea-size berries that need gentle handling. These seedless grapes are not used in the homonymous French sparkling wine but are so named because they’re thought to resemble tiny bubbles.
Concord grapes have thick skins, juicy flesh, large seeds, and a strong strawberry-like flavor. They come in purple and white varieties and are ideal for juices and jellies.
Green Thompson grapes are the top seller at the supermarket. Large and seedless, they have firm skins that make them very durable. Their mild flavor pairs well with citrus.
Muscat grapes usually have seeds and come in black and white varieties. Prized for their honey-floral flavor and perfume, they’re used for both eating (they’re delicious with cheese) and making wine.
Red Flame grapes are sweet in flavor with a crunchy texture. They’re ideal for both eating out of hand and cooking, as they keep their shape well and acquire a deeper flavor when heated.
Choose clusters that are plump and firm with no bruising, soft spots, or broken skins. Avoid bunches with stems that are toughened or browned with age.
Many grape varieties have a white powdery coating called "bloom". This delicate natural protection helps keep the grapes form losing moisture so wait to wash them until just before serving. Grapes should be rinsed in a colander under running water.
Store grapes loosely covered in plastic wrap (a paper bag will also work) in the refrigerator without washing them. They should last about a week. When ready to eat or use in a dish, let them warm up a bit for the best flavor.