Grapes are one of the most favoured fruits in India. Known as berries they are sweet, nutritious, and of wine-making quality. Introduced by Persian invaders, grapes are today grown on farms across states such as Maharashtra, Sangli, Ahmednagar, Satara, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. Nashik holds the fort for being the wine capital of India as ranks high in the cultivation of these fruits across the world. It also has a grape pack-house facility.
Botanically called Vitis vinifera the grapes come from the family Vitaceae. Though the origin is the same there is a notable difference in their taste, colour, and size. The grapes get their colour from a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin which changes pigments.
The grape plant is a perennial spiral vine with tendrils clusters that grow on stems. And the grapevine leaves are heart-shaped and reveal prominent veins. The size, colour, and shape of these leaves also vary with the fruit.
Types of grapes
Over 20 varieties of grapes are cultivated in India but only 12 varieties are grown commercially. Grapes are mainly classified into two types: Table grapes and Wine grapes. Both these types have a unique flavour and sweetness. Table grapes are mainly seedless and come in the colour palette of pale green, black, purple, and red. The fleshy ones can be enjoyed fresh or used in salads and desserts. The red round crunchy grapes have good juice content. Wine grapes are thick, crunchy, and seeded. They are rich in antioxidants.
As the name suggests, Bangalore blue grows in Bangalore. It is one of the three major varieties of grape cultivated in Karnataka, the other two being Thomson seedless and Anab-E-Shahi Dilkush.
Bangalore Blue is devoured for its juicy, delicious, sweet taste and is mainly cultivated for wine preparation. Purple in colour, they are ovoid-shaped and have multiple seeds. They are said to have anti-ageing and anti-cancer properties. Regarded as the gift of the Karnataka state, Bangalore, Kolar, and Chikkaballapur also lead as hotspots for their cultivation.
It is a type of table grape that is seeded and used to make wine. Red in colour they are juicy, bigger than other grapes having firm flesh but thin skin. The red globe grapes are deliciously balanced in sweetness. They can be consumed fresh or dried for raisins and can also be used for various grape juices. Red globe is cultivated in warm areas where the growing seasons are lengthy.
Sonaka is a clone of Thompson grapes, and it’s elongated and larger than the typical Thompson. Its berries are crunchy and full of sweetness with a balanced tart aftertaste. Sonaka Seedless Green is the second-largest grape variety exported from India, and it’s highly appreciated for its flavour. It’s a table variety of grapes that are rich in Vitamin C.
Crimson seedless grapes are plump and juicy with a generous amount of antioxidants, making them perfect for people who want to keep their heart healthy and boost cognition at the same time. These large, cylindrical-oval berries are bright red and seedless. They have thick tough skin and firm crisp flesh with a neutral flavour that makes them perfect for snacking or eating fresh from the vine.
Introduced in Hyderabad by Abdul Baquer Khan from the Middle East, the word ‘Anab’ indicates grape in Arabic and ‘Shahi’ suggests royal. It is an amber-coloured table grape that is elongated and medium in size. It originates from Hyderabad but is also grown in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, and Haryana. This unique variety of grapes lends to seamless cultivation as it is adaptable to different agro-climate conditions. Though it takes time to mature it gives a good yield. You can make sparkling wines (Champagne of India) from this type.
Dilkhush is a clone of Anab-e-Shahi, cultivated in many regions in India. It has a pale green colour with white seeds. Karnataka with many other states produces these grapes along with Pandari Sahebi, Kali Sahebi, and Cheema Sahebi variants. It is rain-resistant and most of the harvesting is done in the hot summer days of March and April. Both Anab-e-Shahi and Dilkhush have a fresh taste to them.
Amber to pale green in colour, they are seedless grapes. Belonging to the Sultana variety this type is oval, which produces thin clusters of large berries in huge bunches. Sweet to taste, they make a healthy snack as dried raisins. Thompson Seedless grows in Northern India along with Beauty Seedless and Black Hamburg varieties.
Sharad Seedless grapes are a variant of black seedless grapes grown in certain parts of Northern India. Sharad Seedless is black or purple. These grapes are known for their sweetness and high concentration of vitamins A, C, and B6. Available in December and February, these grapes are cultivated as a commercial variety as they are in demand in domestic and international markets. Sharad seedless grapes protect against cancer, nerve, and heart diseases. It is known to prevent Alzheimer’s and increase our immunity against viral or fungal infections. It is a good source of vitamin A, and minerals and also good for vision. The antioxidants present in these grapes protect one against harmful UV rays.
They are also called Gulabi or Pink Muscat grapes as they boast of green colour with a pink hue. Theni and Dindigul in Tamil Nadu are the two most popular grape-growing regions known for the famous Gulabi Muscat variant. Muscat grapes are packed with vitamins A, C, and K. These grapes are known to lower blood pressure and improve overall heart function. The harvest season is from the month of January-March and June-December. These types are rain-resistant. You can make rose wine using this variety of grapes.
Grapes have antioxidants like polyphenols which also have anti-inflammatory properties. One of the polyphenols is resveratrol, present in the grape skin of red grapes and mainly can prevent some tumours and also prevent leukaemia. Heart-friendly resveratrol can decrease the risk of atherosclerosis. The fibre and water content of grapes helps treat constipation and potassium helps in cardiovascular health and blood pressure. Contrary to the popular theory diabetics can eat grapes but in moderation.
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