Champagne grapes grow in tightly packed clusters and are prized for their extremely small size. They are a sweet seedless berry with an incredibly delicate thin skin that almost pops open when bitten. The black variety's skin has more of a deep magenta color with dark blue tones and a transluscent green inner pulp. When the berries are fresh, at their peak maturity, they are intensely sweet and succulent with a mere hint of tartness. As a dried currant, the grapes' sweetness is magnified, their size dramatically reduced and their texture typical to that of a raisin.
Champagne grapes are available from late spring through early fall.
Regardless of what the name may imply, the Champagne grape is rarely used to make wine, and certainly not used in the production of the iconic French sparkling wine of the same name. Rather, they are a variety of Vitis vinifera also known as black Corinth grapes or, when dried, the Zante currant. They are the smallest variety of all seedless grapes and one of the very few Parthenocarpic type of grapes in production - Parthenocarpic grapes have absolutely no seed development at all, compared to other seedless varieties, which develop seeds and eventually the seeds naturally abort.
As with all grapes, Champagne grapes are high in anti-oxidants and fiber, and low in calories.
Champagne grapes are ubiquitously utilized for garnishing champagne flutes and decorating desserts and cheese trays. These traditional uses as an accoutrement merely celebrate the fruit as a table grape. The grapes can also be used in many other forms both fresh and dried. They may be added to pastries, such as scones, muffins and cakes or put on top of cereals, granola and yogurt. They can also be cooked and reduced into a jelly and added to sauces for savory pairings with lamb, game and pork. In a dried currant form, the Champagne grapes can be used in sweet applications as well as savory dishes such as couscous, rice, green salads or paired with aged and fresh cheeses alongside charcuterie meats.