I get a lot of press releases and other e-mails as a result of writing this blog. Sadly, I can't attend a lot of the events as I don't live in New York or Los Angeles. However, when presented with the opportunity to sample some wine grapes during the harvest, I jumped at the chance. Yesterday I received a box (actually a wooden wine box) full of grapes from the California Association of Wine Growers. (The consumer-oriented website can be found at One Nation Under Vines.) Check out the websites for information on the history of California Wine, their "Declaration of Independence", and information on sustainable grape growing practices.
The varieties seen here are Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. I've been to vineyards before, but never when fruit was on the vine and and I was really surprised at how small the grapes were. I considered using a coin to illustrate the size, but given my international audience it would have looked odd to throw a handful of nickels, pounds, euros, guilders, lire, and old Deutsch Marks onto the plate. Instead, I grabbed the closest and possibly most standard measurement item that was handy: a beer bottle cap.
The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are a bit difficult to describe flavor-wise, since there's a lot of skin and a big seed. Chewing on a mouthful of the skins definitely hits you with a strong tannic sensation. They're not sweet, just somewhat fruity and more refined than your regular black or red grapes you get at the grocery store.
The Chardonnay grapes are a whole other ballgame. They're a little bigger and full of juice. Yes there are seeds, but you get a flavor that actually tastes a little like Chardonnay, though sweeter and thicker. I'm surprised that Chardonnay grapes haven't made an appearance as a gourmet garnish like pomegranate pips.