Choosing the best champagne grapes is not difficult, and shoppers need to keep just a few simple tips in mind as they look over the selection on store shelves. The best champagne grapes will not have any marks or bruises on them, and they will be firm with a nice fragrance. The best grapes are round, full, and a bit chubby, despite their overall small size. The best champagne grapes will not sag from their stems, but they will cling to the stems firmly. To keep champagne grapes in the best shape after bringing them home, they should be kept in a refrigerator, and grape freshness can be maintained for up to a week.
The name “champagne grape” leads some people to mistakenly believe that champagne is made from these small grapes. These grapes are actually a type called Black Corinth, also called Zante Currant in their dried form. The name comes from the grape’s origin in the Greek city of Corinth a few thousand years ago. Today they are also grown in the United States, Italy, Chile, Australia, Spain, Israel and South Africa.
The grapes were used in winemaking long before they gained the wider attention of modern cooks and produce shoppers in the 1980s. Modern lovers of champagne grapes like the sweet taste and the unique size, which is much smaller than other grapes. The champagne grape’s size is sometimes compared to that of a pea, and a good-sized bunch can fit in a person’s palm.
Because it is so small, this seedless, dark purple grape has become popular as a garnish, looking especially appealing as it dangles from the rim of a champagne glass. They are also used in a variety of recipes, including rice and chicken dishes, homemade ice cream and cakes, and sauces. These grapes should not be confused with another type of grape that is also sometimes called a champagne grape, which is an older American variety with a very different taste that is not as sweet.