Colloquial name for grape varieties which, unlike wine grapes, are mainly grown as eating grapes for fresh consumption or for the production of raisins. Even the Greeks and Romans in ancient times bred special varieties with particularly sweet and large berries, which were the most popular and important fruit not only among the owners (besides the figs) but also among the common people. They were used not only for consumption but also as a sweetener for food and drink. In 2014 a total of 747 million quintals (100 kg) of grapes were produced worldwide. 418 (56%) of these were used as wine grapes for wine and grape juice and unfermented intermediate products such as RTK, and 329 (44%) as eating grapes, i.e. table grapes and raisins.
The eating grapes have different quality criteria than the wine grapes intended for wine. These are loose berries, beautiful colour, evenly sized and preferably seedless or seedless juicy berries, thin elastic skin, long berry stalk, firm flesh and shelf life for longer transport. Seedlessness also causes negative characteristics, which are prevented by fertilization, irrigation and growth-regulating measures. Gibberellins are used for large berries. Early ripening is desirable. The sugar content should be at least 130 g/kg berries (55 °Oe or 11 °KMW). In the last hundred years many new varieties with the desired characteristics have been created, one of the most important breeding objectives is resistance to fungi (see PIWI). These are often hybrid crosses of European and American vines. The American ones provide the desired resistance to both types of mildew. After harvesting, table grapes, as non-climacteric fruits, do not ripen. Cultivation is tied to a warm climate, or they are grown in greenhouses. They are marketed all year round.
Since the EU wine market organisation in 2000, table grapes are no longer subject to wine law. This means that cultivation is no longer bound to the vineyard area for wine production as stated in the vine register and is free. Grapes classified as wine grapes may not be marketed as table grapes (only those varieties of grape that have been classified as such by the wine-growing countries - in Austria's federal states - may be planted for wine production). The table grapes may not be used to produce Federweißer or Sturm, grape must or wine; not even for personal consumption. The planting of wine grape varieties for commercial table grape production is not permitted. However, there are also so-called cut grapes, i.e. wine grapes which may also be marketed as eating grapes. These are for example Chasselas (Gutedel) and Schiava Grossa.
In the trade, table grapes are offered in three quality classes: Extra (flawless), I (good quality) and II (marketable). The following requirements apply to all classes: no rotting, mould or pest infestation, no visible foreign matter(pesticides, dirt), natural scent film and sufficient degree of ripeness
The three main countries producing table grapes in terms of volume are China, India and Turkey, where table grapes account for 85% of the total; the remaining 15% are Celtic varieties. These three countries together produce about half of the world's volume. Other important producers are Brazil (34% of the national production), Chile, Greece (41% of the national production), the Netherlands (in winter from greenhouses), Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, South Africa and some former USSR countries.
Today there are well over a thousand different varieties of table grapes, 99% of which are new varieties. Some of them are also suitable as ornamental vines. The world's most productive table grape grower was undoubtedly the Hungarian János Mathiász (1838-1921), who carried out some 3,500 crosses. Also of great importance was the Italian pomologist Alberto Piròvano (1884-1973). The picture shows the world's top 4 table grapes; the most important in bold:
Achladi to Autumn Seedless
Baco Chasselas to Burra Blanca
Calastra to Csaba Gyöngye
Dabouki to Duchess of Buccleugh
Edelweiss to Excelsior
Ferdinand de Lesseps to Fredonia
Galante to Golden Queen
Hecker to Huxelrebe
Ingram's Muscat to Italia
Jifeng to Jumbo Red
Kachichi to Kyoho
Lady Downe's Seedling to Lyana
Madeleine Angevine to Muscat
Nero to Nyora
Oeillade to Osella
Palatina to Pukhliakovsky
Red Globe to Ruby Okuyama
Schiava Grossa to Super Hamburg
Terez to Triomphe d'Alsace
Urbana to Zeyu