Dr John Feltwell

Table grapes – reviewed

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. Enjoy!

Grape Variety: Identification right-handed from top centre: Sugarone, Muscat de Hambourg, Dallic, Cardinal, Chasselas and Muscat Bio

Grapes comes in all different shapes and sizes: (L-R)

Victoria, Chasselas, Cardinal, Muscat

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. Origin: Sainsbury from Spain. Other Origins: Chile and South Africa. Quite a widespread table grape. Fruit is slightly oblong, skin is firm, and overall slightly better than average food for bedside popping.

‘Arkley’ – an unknown grape named after an English village where it was found. A pink seeded grape, maturing well into late autumn with darker tasty fruits. Grown in East Sussex

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.

‘Arra 29’ -A perfectly acceptable black seedless grape, slightly elliptical, whose soft skin and juicy flesh do not leave any unacceptable taste, aftertaste or buccal debris. This is good score for a table grape which can be popped until full. These grapes are fresh with green stems. Origin: Namibia for Jack’s for Tesco.

‘Arra ‘Passion Fire’, or ‘Arratwentynine’ (obviously) from a different source to above. On green stems this is marketed as a red seedless grape, sweet and juicy’ which I would agree with. The grape is rounded and pale purple even cherry colour to dark purple, soft and squashy with a very pleasant ‘eat’, the skin is not troublesome, the flavour agreeable. Very moorish. Could sit and eat these for a long time. Origin: South Africa via Lidl, Bexhill, Sussex.

Arra 31′ A rich purple to dark purple seedless grape with torpedo-shaped fruits with no pips. Somebody might like this. The flesh is firm and juicy. The origin is Brazil but it has come too far to be sold in a local Sussex Post Office, for its stems are withered and brown not green and succulent. The sales tag says this is ‘part of the Tesco family; sold under the ‘Jacks’ label. Fresher ones might be better.

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

‘Autumn Crisp’ – a large (over 3cm) white (actually green) seedless grape, with firm flesh (nondescript); skin, light, firm, aging to pale orange. It is quite an acceptable grape which keeps it juices firmly inside. Origin: Peru for M&S.

‘Cardinal’ – a mass-produced staple which saturates the markets in the South of France during August. Its a standard grape which is an all round undistingued favourite. Very pleasant, not too juicy with sound flesh. Origin: Market in France (34).

‘Candy Dreams’ – marketed as tasting of jam, this is a small black seedless grape which is very fruity, but not necessarily juicy. It has bright, young sweet taste and presents as a collection of unusually small grapes – they are about the same size of sloes, not not bitter. Travel time seems to have caught up with it, showing fresh green and older brown stems going off. Origin: Peru for M&S.

‘Chasselas‘ a very popular and vigorous vine with seeded grapes. A later maturer in England, and the fruits change to an orange glow when at its best. Quite a small grape that stores for a short while and tempting to eat in quantity. A mature outdoor vine easily produces over 60 bunches when kept irrigated.

Crimson‘ – a 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. Origin: Greece for French Supermarket (Fr, 34) via Zeus distributors.

‘Cotton Candy’ -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. 

‘Dallac’ – A white grape with pips, very pleasant, skin not too tough, watery warm flesh, less on the sweet side but refreshing. Very worthwhile for the table or bedside, flesh slips out of the skin. Orgin: French market (34) locally produced.

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. Origin: 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.

IFG Three’ – what a weird name for a grape, but this is quite a bold and sturdy black seedless grape forming big trusses. The colour varies from rosy dark purple to deep purple. The skin is not too tough, the flesh agreeable and watery but there is some unpleasant aftertaste. This particular bunch is covered in mould, perhaps a bit too old although the stems are green. Origin: Peru for Jack’s and Tesco Ireland, purchased in a UK Post Office.

‘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. East Sussex.

‘Ivory’ – Quite a bright green seedless grape where the flesh is like a puree and lacks all substance. What has happened to this sample, even though it has green stems. Possibly been frozen. Origin: Peru for Tesco.

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: Peru for Staverton’s Nursery. East Sussex.

‘Jacques’ – an American selection, a natural hybrid between V. aestivalis and cinerea x vinifera, Growing at St Jean du Gard, France.

‘La Vallee’ – In perfect freshness, with green stems, this French origin grape sold by Intermarchee, is a large seedless grape looks better than it tastes. The taste is not remarkable, fleshy but not sweet, the skin is tough and slightly bitter. As a table grape, no need to have second helpings. It is a large grape so you only need four.

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 and North America.

‘Mazzarrone’ – A round pink grape that was not a pleasurable experience, verging on tart, juicy but not sweet and skin was hard. Maybe just a bad lot. Hang it up for a year and make raisins. Origin: Leader Price, France (34)


This section is on the sublime quality of the muscat grape. Not all muscat grapes are this typical colour, however, but the taste is always adorable.

‘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 Bio’ – as sold in a French Market (Fr, 34), clouded with mould, but indistinquishable from ordinary muscat grapes, taste similar. Seeds small and swallowable.

‘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.

‘Muscat de Hambourg’ With pips, but who cares when enjoying a muscat grape. Takes one back to how things used to be casually eating grapes off the vine in the vineyard. Fantastic flavours. Flesh a wicked dose of extra sweet, juicy explosion. I could pop these all day long. The skin is part of the experience and is not an inconvenience in the enjoyment of this grape. Origin: France for Aldi, France (34).

Muscat ‘Oeillade’ This variety has larger leaves than the normal Vitis ‘Oeillade’ and it has fairly similar flavour, perhaps sweeter. It is still a large black muscat grape with pips and with all the flavour you would expect from any muscat. It is deserving of the top table. Origin: Cevennes. Fr (30)

Muscat’ White – If you thought that all muscat grapes are black you would be wrong. The white one is just as tasty and juicy and full of sunshine and sheer pleasure that all muscats bring. Origin: Cevennes. Fr (30)

‘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.

End of Muscat display. Here are Muscats and Mazzarrone grapes on display.

Natorra’ – A ‘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.

‘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’

‘Prima’ – A very pleasant,black, juicy grape which, when eaten the contents pops out of the skin as a package of sweetness. The skin is a little chewy. Although the origin of the grapes is France (sold by Aldi) the stems were dark and not fresh green.

Prime’ – A white seedless grape which is just what it says on the label ‘sweet and juicy’ (unusual for such claims in grapes), hints of high summer, fruits, skin not too tough, aftertaste good. Origin: Egypt for Ocado, other suppliers from Namibia.

‘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. It is a battle to eat them all before the autumn weather deteriorates. The skin is OK and not intrusive.

‘Punnet’ – sold as ! – a regular green seedless grape

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 it has pips. It is what it is, an old part of the Mediterranean experience, big enough to squeeze out the pips before eating the large fleshy grape. A good eat. Origin: Italy for Intermarche, France.

‘Ralli’ – a red pink seedless grape, highly delicious, luscious, pluckable, slightly elongate / ellipsoidal, skin thin, flesh sweet and dissolving into mouthfuls of pleasure. This is certainly a five star grape. More please. Origin: South Africa for Tesco, part of ‘Jacks’

Red Clobe‘, a red grape with seeds, low to medium sweetness. Origin: Italy for Leader Price in France.

‘Regal’, a white ‘sans pepin’ grape, but typically green going to shades of orange as it gets older, and becoming more flavoursome. The shape is slightly oblong. It is good, fleshy and juicy, but skin is tough, unpleasant and bitter when chewed extensively. This is not a grape to have at the bedside as restorative food. It is a table grape that is bettered by newer varieties. Origin: Italy from a French supermarket.

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

‘Scarlotta’ – with a name indicating red, this is a black grape, slightly oblong with fairly tight skin and the flesh good but not outstanding. The skin is chewy. This sample was covered in fungal spores.

‘Starlight’ – is a seedless, round red (sometimes pink) grape with very agreeable taste. The flesh is sweet with no aftertaste.A mutation of ‘Prime’. Origin: Egypt for Ocado, UK.

‘Sugarone’ – A very very large seedless grape, named ‘Uva Senza Semi’ on the packet, but it is a variety called Sugraone. The origin is from Palagonia (Italy) sold by Aldi in France (34). The grape is hard work to review. It is very bland, not pleasant, flesh just about OK, skin not too hard. Clearly bred for size to impress, but what do you do with 800g of grapes, decoration, photo-call?

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. Origin: Namibia for Ocado.

Sweet Globe’ – a green seedless grape. erring on the bland tasteless variety with all succulence bred out overshadowed by a thick skin that is difficult to chew and masks everything. The experience is hard going and this grape may as well sit as an ornament on the table. These grapes appear to be old (brown stems) and the flesh is mushy – possibly experienced frost in storage. Origin: Namibia for Coop.

‘Sweet Joy‘ – a plain simple black grape, slightly elipsoid with firm flesh, hard skin with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Sweet Sapphire‘ an odd-ball black grape with an unusual shape. Stiff and not too grapey.

‘Sweet Surrender’ – somehow these South African grapes looked tired and sweaty although they had green stems – always a sign of relative freshness. The taste was definitely sweet, the going juicy and the skin just a little bit on the tough side. Some of these grapes tasted sweeter as though they had benefited from aging (often brings out the flavour). Marketed as black seedless grapes which are ‘sweet and juicy’ to which I agree, but I don’t think I will ;surrender’ to it, like I would a muscat grape. Origin: Namibia via Lidl, Bexhill, Sussex.

Tawny‘ – an almost indistinguishable-looking seedless grape as ‘IFG-Three’ marketed by the same company, from the same continent, but tasting much better, The bunches of slight to dark purple grapes are thickly covered in fungal mould (see the photo), but this does not affect the experience. Origin: Peru via Jack’s and Tesco Ireland, purchased in local post office.

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, turgid, bouncy grapes of no taste. Maybe the secret of Tutti Frutti is in its genetic mix. Definitely weird and wonderful or 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 pleasure. Excellent. Origin: South Africa for Ocado.