General characteristics of the grapes
When we talk about grapes we mean to refer to the so-called "bunch", which is composed of a stalk and berries (the "beans", commonly known by this name). It is mainly cultivated for the production of wine, but also for a direct food consumption of the fruit, even in the form of juice (non-alcoholic). We have two large types of grapes cultivated, the most common and widespread, are: Vitis vinifera and the Vitis labrusca. The first is native to Europe (or Western Asia), and it is the one from which all table wines and grapes are produced; the second one, coming from America, is less widespread and is exclusively used for the production of table grapes. In wine production alone, about 800 types of grapes are used, each of which has particular characteristics. Each type has its own yield and quality that is always closely related to the environment in which it is grown and to the climate. Therefore there are territories more or less suitable for certain types of vineyards. Italy, presenting a particularly favorable climate for production, is among the highest and best producers in the world.
Nutritional properties of grapes
The properties of this fruit are extremely important and favorable for humans. In fact, the grape is considered one of the richest fruits in terms of medicinal properties. Meanwhile we say that it is a fruit rich in water (over 80%) and has 15% carbohydrates (ie glucose and fructose), 2% fiber, 0.5 protein and only 0.1% fat . This last data is very important. It also has many mineral salts (a lot of potassium, but also manganese and phosphorus) and vitamins C, A, B1, B2 and PP. The beneficial action is found, in particular, in the functions of the venous system (capillary fragility, hemorrhoids) , but also in phlebitis (due to its astringent properties) and in menopausal disorders. Then, thanks to polyphenols, the consumption of grapes helps keep the skin elastic and the oxidation of LDL.
Types: wine grapes
So Italy is the first wine-producing country in Europe and in the world, producing 80% of world production alone. The most widespread vine in Italy is Sangiovese, which covers 10% of the area planted with wine grapes of the nation. In addition, Italy holds the record for native vines: they are 355. Besides the Sngiovese, the most widespread vines are Montepulciano, the Sicilian white Cataratto, the Tuscan Trebbiano and the Barbera. The less common varieties are not inferior in quality, on the contrary, they are often better. Often a type of grape is closely related to the territory, so it may happen that a vineyard is present only in a certain territory, with specific characteristics, for very few hectares. A very important element for wine grapes is its acidity. This is the fundamental basis for a production, since acidity and tannins give the structure that allows the wine to age and resist over time.
Types of grapes: The table grapes
The table grapes have a very different maturation from the wine one. In the table variety it is very important to replace acids with sugars (in wine grapes, instead, we have seen that acidity plays a fundamental role). Sugars are therefore fundamental for the taste of the fruit. Table grapes have very large grains and a crunchy texture, very important characteristics for consumers. It is due to regions such as Basilicata, Puglia and Sicily if Italy and Europe can appreciate an extraordinary and nutritious product such as table grapes for 8 months a year. In these lands, in particular in Basilicata, table grapes of very high quality are produced. The table variety, being transported everywhere, presents great criticalities during transport, unlike the wine one which is subjected to much shorter transports. The problem is linked above all to the difficulty of keeping the bunch healthy following the long transport and the weight in the containers. The maturation and transport costs, therefore, are quite high and expensive.