The champagne grape, also known as Black Corinth or Zante Currant, is a variety of grape that is grown in clusters that produce very small diameter grapes. It is a seedless grape that provides a very sweet flavor for salads, appetizers or as a snack with cheese. The stem, which is also very tiny and tender, is often consumed with the grape rather than attempting to detach the small connector from the main stem. This grape is very small, sweet and crisp. Wonderful as a garnish on cheese trays and a nice touch for fruit baskets. Champagne grapes that are dried are referred to as currants, a named derived from this variety also being called the Zante Currant grape. Although it may be confused with common black, red or white currants that grow on bushes, it is similar only in shape and size but is not the same type of fruit. The dried grape that becomes a currant is often used like raisins as an ingredient when baking cookies and sweets.
The petite champagne grape is very elegant, and stands on its own eaten fresh, or added to fresh fruit and vegetable salads. It is high in sugar and has a very unique flavor. Handle this delicate grape with care – drape a small cluster on the side of a wine glass for that special occasion. Put a whole cluster of the champagne grape in your mouth and enjoy its crisp texture and sweet taste.
The first raisins were most likely sun-dried – 3,000 years ago, or so – grapes were harvested and laid in the sun to dry – a process that continues today. The Champagne Grape, Zante Grape or black Corinth Grape are enjoyed fresh as more growers offer this fabulous grape. The source of the dried currant is the champagne grape – a nutritious – great source of B vitamins, iron and potassium – high fiber food that was a precious trade item in the ancient Near East and Rome. Currants and raisins were brought to Mexico and California in the 18th century, and today the San Joaquin Valley of California produces almost all of the commercially grown raisins, and represents about half of the total world supply! The raisin industry in California boomed in the late 1800’s after a severe heat wave dried the grapes on the vine.
Currants from the Corinth Grapes are seedless and very dark in color – about the size of other raisins. They are labeled “Zante Currants”, which refers to the Greek island where the Corinth first grew. The name Zante is the name of a tiny island off of Greece, and the black Corinth is named after the ancient city of Corinth.