The versatility of the humble grape
PUBLISHED: 08:31 12 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:09 20 February 2013
The humble grape is the world's number one fruit crop. Guess where most of it goes?
We all know - or at least have been told for our own good - that we should be aiming for the five a day ideal. Thats five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables, recommended by the NHS and aimed at keeping us all fitter and healthier.
And - stop me if Im being cynical here - hopefully it will keep us off the hospital waiting lists for a bit longer and keep the costs down.
Like most of us, I like a bit of fruit in my diet - an apple a day, a banana for breakfast, a pear for pudding, a maraschino in my cocktail.
But my very favourite fruit is the grape. And what a wonderfully versatile fruit it is - perfect with cheese, great in a salad. And just look what happens when we ferment it
It is, of course, the worlds most popular fruit. According to a great website full of wine facts - www.wineguides.co.uk - some 20 million acres of grapes are planted across the world, meaning that grapes are ranked as the worlds number one fruit crop. And we know where most of them go.
There are some 10,000 varieties of wine grapes which are grown across the world. It takes around four years before a newly planted grape vine will be ready to be harvested and the grapes made into wine. And we are drinking more and more wine each year. After all, as the Spanish proverb says: Water for oxen, wine for kings.
Ernest Hemingway said: Wine is the most civilized thing in the world. And there are, of course, lots of information about whether drinking wine every day is a good or a bad thing, however civilized.
If you put wine and health into a search engine, you can get 19.5 million UK pages alone.
It can all seem a bit confusing. One publication tells you that drinking a glass of wine a day - particularly red wine - is good for you and one recent story says it can even help you keep the pounds off.
Another may extol the dangers of alcohol at any level. Of course, we all know that everything in moderation is the key and that advice is only as good as the last piece youre given. None of us want to go so far as W.C. Fields, whos excellently humorous quotes include: What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?
Its true that moderate drinkers tend to do everything right - they exercise, and generally they dont smoke, they eat right and drink moderately. It may also sound a little boring, but who am I to judge?
The world would be a sadder place without the taste of the grape. And as St Thomas Aquinas said: Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of good wine.
More grape facts.
Wine Guides also tells us:
- There are approximately 75 grapes in a cluster
- 1 grape cluster will make approximately 1 glass of wine
- It will take 4 clusters of grapes to make 1 bottle of wine
- Growers can expect some 40 clusters from every vine
- 1 vine can produce enough grapes for up to 10 bottles of wine
- It takes about 1200 clusters of grapes to fill 1 barrel with wine
- 1 barrel is equal to 60 gallons
- 60 gallons can fill around 25 cases
- 1 acre of planted vines can produce 5 tons of grapes
- 5 tons of grapes is enough to fill 332 cases of wine