Reviewed here are a selection of grapes, either grown in the author’s garden, or purchased in the UK or France. They are to demonstrate the huge BIODIVERSITY and VERSATILITY of the hugely VIGOROUS Vitis vinifera species. Grapes are loosely classified as white or black, but the colours vary enormously.

They also range from small grapes to large grapes, to grapes like small plums and weird-looking grapes. The taste varies from completely bland to mouthfuls of pure pleasure. The modern trend is to grow grapes without pips (seedless) but there is nothing quite like popping grapes in the traditional way and spitting out the pips, particularly under a Mediterranean sun, either in the Mediterranean or under the warmer skies of the UK, as the Roman enjoyed.

‘Allison’ also called ‘Moyca‘ a nondescript seedless red grape. Source: Sainsbury from Spain.

Cotton Cotton – alluring to a sweet confectionery, this is a white seedless grape, of robust and noble fruit. The grape is slightly larger than normal size, round and full of sweetness. The variety too at least ten years of hybridization selection in test tubes, and the result is a grape that has slightly more sugar in it than normal. It is therefore exceptionally sweet, and even better when you wait until the green grapes go slightly orange, It is now marketed throughout the world. Source: Waitrose, UK. 

‘Arra Sweeties‘ A white seedless grape with firm skin,verging on oblong, flesh OK, not bouncing with sweetness. Not too impressed. Origin: Sainsburys, Coana, Brazil.

Alphonse Lavallee’ a very small ‘raisin noir’ grape, seedless, well rounded, fruity magic parcel of sweetness, taste of sweet strawberry jam. Solid jam within a skin.

Crimson‘ variety Suitably named, a light reddish, variable coloured grape, seedless. Very juicy, up with the dark muscats, very moorish, the flesh tasting like raspberries and summer fruits. Source: Zeus in Greece

Danlas‘ A white seeded grape with small insignificant pips, a very pleasant mouthful of very sweet and juicy flesh. Skin is fairly innocuous, but after 5-10 grapes it does collect and need swallowing (for roughage) or spitting out. Overall experience: Excellent. Source: Le Vigan market, France, Gard (30)

‘Flame’ a small dark red seedless grape, round and juicy, the skin is a little tasteless, very sightly bitter, flesh adorable but not enough. Need to pop lots. Available in July in the UK from Egypt in at least M&S and Sainsburys. Also now available in UK nurseries as a garden plant.

‘Italian Beauty’ a black, seedless grape, sold in an Italian bag which proclaims ‘ An old time favourite’ by Messina company. It is a very ordinary and bland grape with no sweetness. However, they look good, and the stems are green, indicating freshness. Source: Staverton Nursery.

Jack’s Salute‘ ‘PLU 3496’ a red seedless grape, but this variety is a bold black. It is a large grape, very slightly elongated, flesh very juicy, skin tough. Source: Staverton’s Nursery, imported from Peru.

Madeleine Angevine” or colloquially ‘Mad Ange’ Home grown in East Sussex, a white grape with seeds. A cool and juicy grape with soft skin. It is a hybrid from 1857 especially for cooler climates, and now much grown in NW Europe an North America.

‘Muscat Beauty (c) A seedless muscat grape with green stems (which shows it is very fresh). This variety is sometimes referred to as ‘Rosada’, it is basically a white grape that has a rose-light green colour. It is packed with juiciness and the skin is not arduous. Having grown up with the taste of dark purple muscat grapes in Southern France, the colour of this variety came as a big surprise. But tasty. Source: M&S from Chile.

‘Muscat Bleu’ Homegrown here in East Sussex, UK, A black grape although it is called bleu, more likely because of its blue covering of mould. It has seeds which reminds one of old times before seedless became more an accepted norm. The grapes are small, rounded, in fairly open bunches. The taste is quite sharp but sweet with large pips and definitely the muscat taste running through. The skin is not too hard. Not quite as tasty as New York Muscat.

Natorra, Strawberry Nagolina grape’ A black grape that has a strong smell of strawberries before being taken out of the supermarket box, and afterwards. Flesh comes out of the skin as a sac in the mouth, like frogs’ spawn, leaving a tough skin to chew over. There are pips to discard. Clearly an acquired taste and experience, up there with Vitoria, some may hate. Source: Ocado with M&S by appointment.

‘New York Muscat’ Home grown in East Sussex, A red grape which ripens to a darker hue. The flesh pops out of the skin like a sac of juiciness. It has pips which are rather large for a grape. Skin is thin. It is a bright and cheerful grape full of sweet surprises. One of the best muscat grapes – definitely like this grape.

‘Orchidea’ a white seedless grape, slightly elongated, flesh ordinary with a flash of sweetness. Skin not too thick. Source: Staverton Nursery, likely to be from Cabernet Sauvignon, marketed by ‘Les Declicias’

‘Phonix’, also ‘Phoenix‘. Home grown in East Sussex. A very vigorous outdoor white grape. Can reliably produce 60 bunches of grape every year. Very juicy and more watery than sweet. Pips, yes, but not many and small. About 10-20 grapes can be popped successively for a great experience. The skin is OK and not intrusive.

‘Raisin Rose Vrac’ also called ‘Charlotte‘ by Cervino Interfruits, Raisin de Sicile. A large round grape with pips, from Sicily. The weight of a sample of six grapes was 8.43g each! A larger grape gives a larger area for tasting pleasure, flesh is light, refreshing, juicy, more juicy than sweet, a good experience. Skin not a nuisance but pips, It is what it is, an old part of the Mediterranean experience, big enough to squeeze out the pips before eating the grape. Source: Intermarche, France.

Red Clobe‘, a red grape with seeds, low to medium sweetness. Source: Leader Price, France from Italy.

‘Sable‘ a seedless black variety which is, according to the packet ‘intensely sweet and aromatic’. Source: Waitrose,(Nov) from Brazil and M&S (July).

Sweet Celebration‘ a red to dark purple, round to oval-shaped grape, seedless grape. It pops to reveal a mouthful of delicious juicy flesh, skin a little tough but not a distraction. Source: Ocado imported from Namibia.

‘Sweet Sapphire’ an odd ball black grape with an unusual shape.

Tutti Frutti, also called IFG Candy Hearts. A red seedless grape marketed as ‘bursting with exotic fruity flavours’ and ‘naturally grown’ whatever that means. Probably organic. The taste and experience hits all the right notes. It is a weird yet wonderful grape. The skin is not an issue as the explosion of exotic notes does take over. I can see that some people might be knocked over by the taste, like drinking a sweet wine by mistake of a dry wine., but most will find this a perfect grape that transcends all those taught bouncy grapes of no taste. Cotton Candy seems to be in genetic mix., Definitely weird and wonderful. Maybe a marmite moment too. Source: M&S via Ocado.

‘Timco’ A seedless red grape, mostly round, slightly variable in colour, skin thin, flesh tasty, juicy, refreshing with bursts of happiness. Excellent. Origin: Ocado from South Africa.