Sweet champagne

In Season

September 05, 2007|By Bill Daley | Bill Daley,Chicago Tribune

Champagne is not made from the champagne grape. That honor belongs to chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.

The diminutive champagne grape found in stores is actually the black corinth, also known as zante, according to The New Food Lover's Companion. The grape is believed to hail from Greece. Its more glam nickname is generally attributed to smart marketing and, possibly, a nod to its pea-sized bubbly shape.

The grapes are deeply colored violet, lavishly clustered and very sweet and juicy, with a nice crisp snap on the finish. Dried, the grapes are called zante currants because of their resemblance to true currants.

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Bill Daley writes for the Chicago Tribune.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

BUYING

Champagne grapes are in season through October. Look for unblemished grapes with fresh stems.

STORING

Refrigerate up to one week in a plastic bag.

COOKING

Use as you would ordinary grapes: as a snack eaten out of hand, in salads and sandwiches, paired with cheeses (particularly good with these grapes are double- or triple-creams and blue cheeses). Wash the grapes and drain well before using. Champagne grapes often are used as edible garnishes for cakes and molded desserts. Some folks even use them in flower arrangements. The dried grapes often are used in baking.

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