Are Grapes a Citrus Fruit?

If you ask someone what their favorite fruit is, one of the most common answers that you’ll hear is grapes. Grapes are easily grown all around the world and are known for their sweet flavor and smooth texture. They can be eaten by the handful or incorporated into your favorite recipes. Grapes are also commonly used to make wine and their ease of cultivation has played a huge part in making wine as popular as it is.

However, sometimes when you bite into a grape you notice a distinct, sour flavor that is reminiscent of flavors like orange. This has made some people wonder if a grape is technically a citrus fruit.

Despite their occasionally sour flavor, grapes are not technically a citrus fruit. Instead, they are classified as a berry due to their thin skin and completely edible flesh.

There are many physical differences between grapes and citrus fruits. When you read into the differences, it quickly becomes obvious why one is classified as a berry and the other as citrus fruit.

The Origin of Grapes

You can trace modern grapes back several thousand years to the Middle East. There, grapes grew in abundance and were prized because of their sweet flavor. They also grow well in a variety of climates. This is in contrast to most other types of fruit which need a very specific climate to be productive.

It was there that farmers also discovered that grapes tend to grow yeast on their skins, a necessary component in wine. Yeast is a type of fungus that converts the natural sugars in grapes into alcohol. Without yeast, wine would simply stay grape juice and would never ferment into the wines that are popular all over the world.

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Through experimentation, people in the Middle East began to create the first wines. Wine become a prized drink and the first wineries were created. 

From there, wine made its way up to Europe and with it, grapes. Grapes became a popular crop in Europe as well. They also made their way to North America and Africa. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that wine production began in North America. Before then, the only varieties of grapes being grown there were not suitable for wine production.

The Key Differences Between Grapes and Citrus Fruits

Although they sometimes taste similar, grapes are not considered citrus fruits. There are several marked differences between the two including their taste, physical features, and botanical classification.

What are Citrus Fruits?

Officially, citrus fruit is a fruit that has a thick rind that protects a pulpy center. The pulpy center is divided into segments that are full of juices. As you can see, grapes do not meet these criteria. 

These fruits are commonly used to make juices and their rinds are used to make oils. They are known for their distinctive, acidic flavor and are typically packed with vitamins including vitamins C and A. 

Physical Features

Grapes are small, round fruit that grows in bunches similar to those you’ll see with berries. They have smooth, thin skins that protect the inside of the grape. The flesh of the grape is not divided into segments and has a smooth texture.

Citrus fruits have a thick, bitter rind that protects the inside of the fruit. They grow individually on trees and thrive best in subtropics or other warm climates. The flesh of citrus fruits is divided into segments and has a pulpy texture. 

Taste

Grapes typically have a sweet flavor. However, the level of sweetness varies based on the variety. Some varieties have a bitter taste that comes from their skin and seeds. This bitter flavor is what can sometimes confuse people into thinking grapes are citrus fruits. As a matter of fact, grapes aren’t the only fruit that has people confused because of their flavor. Some people also mistake strawberries for citrus fruits due to their occasionally bitter taste.

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The reason that citrus fruits have that name is that they contain citric acid. This is what gives citrus fruits their classic acidic flavor. They also have a sweetness that helps to balance out the acidity caused by the high levels of citric acid.

Heart Protection

Grapes are known for being a heart-healthy food. This fruit contains high levels of both potassium and flavonols. Both of these components help to reduce high blood pressure and can improve heart ailments. 

Citrus fruits also contain flavonols and potassium which are good for your heart. However, these fruits contain them in lower amounts which means they are not as potent of a heart-healthy food. 

Anti-Aging Effects

Grapes are known for containing antioxidants that can provide anti-aging effects. Some of the antioxidants found in grapes have even been linked to preventing neurodegeneration and reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

Citrus fruits also have antioxidant properties. However, they have not been linked to fighting neurodegeneration or preventing Alzheimer’s Disease. Instead, citrus fruits contain large quantities of vitamin C. Vitamin C is known for boosting your immune system and protecting your cells against free radicals. This may help to prevent you from developing things like cancer and heart disease.

Wine Quality

Grapes were the first fruit to be used to make wine. Their skins naturally carry which helps to naturally kickstart the fermentation process needed to make wine. Many different varieties of grapes have been specially bred for wine. This means that you can make several different flavor profiles with only one species of fruit. 

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While you can technically make wine with citrus fruits, it is more difficult to do so. Yeast does not naturally grow on the rinds of citrus fruits. This means that you have to artificially introduce yeast in order for the juice to ferment. This can be done, but it is more difficult to make sure that the level of yeast is correct for proper fermentation. 

Some manufacturers do make wines out of citrus fruits, but they are not as popular as the traditional grape-based wines.

How Are Grapes Classified

Grapes are not classified as citrus fruit. Instead, grapes are classified as a berry. This is because they grow in bunches on a flowering plant. They also have thin skins and the entirety of the flesh of the fruit is edible. There is no pit that needs to be removed and even the seeds, in seeded varieties, can be consumed safely.

Citrus fruits have a thick, inedible rind that is bitter in flavor. This rind protects the flesh of the fruit which has a pulpy texture and is divided into segments that can oftentimes be pulled apart and eaten individually. Citrus fruits also contain seeds which are typically removed from the fruit before consumption.

Citrus fruits are also grown on trees and grow individually instead of in a bunch like grapes and other berries.