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  #1  
Old 02-25-2007, 05:19 PM
Gozu Gozu is offline
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Why does grape juice have a bad aftertaste in the U.S?

I love grape juice. A short time ago, I bought some in France and Belgium and it tasted great. When I came back to the states, I bought some more and it had this strong, annoying aftertaste. I thought it was just a cheap brand so I went and bought 5 or 6 other brands (many of them organic/ freshly pressed and whatnot) and to my dismay, they all have the same nasty aftertaste.

What's up with that?
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  #2  
Old 02-25-2007, 05:35 PM
psycat90 psycat90 is offline
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I don't know what grapes are used to make grape juice in France or Belgium, but I suspect they are not Concord. Most commercial grape juices here in the US are made from Concord grapes.

Concord grapes (actually all species of vitis labrusca) have a sweet taste/aftertaste commonly described as "foxy." That's most likely what you're tasting.

You can also taste it in grape jams and jellies (like Welch's, Smucker's etc.)
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  #3  
Old 02-25-2007, 06:22 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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First time I tasted Welch's purple grape juice, I had to check the bottle to see if it contained artificial flavourings; the aroma is quite pleasant, but doesn't taste natural - or rather, it tastes like artificial grape flavouring (not that we get very much of that here - most purple candy is blackcurrant flavour here).
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  #4  
Old 02-25-2007, 07:32 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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psycat nailed it -- it's what I came in to say.

To those of us raised on it (my grandmother had a Concord Grape arbor, and later on my father did also), that "foxiness" is the taste of real grapes. Most, if not all, of the Labrusca grapes have it -- Catawba, Niagra, and Diamond as well as Concord 9which is a hybrid developed in -- yup -- Concord, Mass.)



That foxiness became a major issue when phylloxera wiped out the Vinifera vines brought to the New World. Vinifera hadn't the resistance to the parasite that Labrusca did.They succeeded in grafting viniferqa vines onto labrusca roots, but it was charg4ed that the "foxiness" still came through. I don't know how the problem (if it existed) was eventually solved. American wines can now be grown without that foxy taste, but I still have a liking for those that do. Some have a reputation for being cheap and low-class wines -- Manischewitz, Mogen David, Taylor Lake Country, Widmer's (which is one of my guilty pleasures), but others used those same grapes to produce very good wines -- Bully Hill and the now long-gone Chateau Esperanza.
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  #5  
Old 02-25-2007, 07:48 PM
Gozu Gozu is offline
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Well then, that solves my mystery. I'll try looking for non-concord grape juices if there are any.

Thanks!
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  #6  
Old 02-25-2007, 07:58 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
I don't know how the problem (if it existed) was eventually solved. American wines can now be grown without that foxy taste, but I still have a liking for those that do. Some have a reputation for being cheap and low-class wines -- Manischewitz, Mogen David, Taylor Lake Country, Widmer's (which is one of my guilty pleasures), but others used those same grapes to produce very good wines -- Bully Hill and the now long-gone Chateau Esperanza.
You and me, both, Cal. Concord grapes make one hell of a wine.
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  #7  
Old 02-25-2007, 08:30 PM
psycat90 psycat90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
They succeeded in grafting viniferqa vines onto labrusca roots, but it was charg4ed that the "foxiness" still came through. I don't know how the problem (if it existed) was eventually solved.

It never existed. Much of the wine grapes (Vitis Vinifera) planted in the world today are grafted onto American Vitis species. There are a few places left that still have vinifera on their own rootstock (Chile, and parts of Washington or Oregon I think), but it's rare.
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  #8  
Old 02-25-2007, 10:59 PM
MrSquishy MrSquishy is offline
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So why is it called "foxiness"?
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  #9  
Old 02-26-2007, 01:32 AM
psycat90 psycat90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSquishy
So why is it called "foxiness"?
The common name for vitis labrusca is 'fox grape.' I've been told that the name comes from the fact that foxes enjoy eating them. True or not, I don't know.

Concord is a cultivar of the species vitis labrusca. (To correct my earlier post referring to Concord grapes as a species.)
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  #10  
Old 02-26-2007, 04:20 AM
Gymnopithys Gymnopithys is offline
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The taste of fox grape does remind of the peculiar, musty smell of a fox.
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  #11  
Old 02-26-2007, 04:31 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
[
...

That foxiness became a major issue when phylloxera wiped out the Vinifera vines brought to the New World. Vinifera hadn't the resistance to the parasite that Labrusca did. ...
Worse than that - in the late 1800's phylloxera infected most of the European vineyards. The Europeans also grafted Vinefera grapes onto Lambrusca stocks to save their wine industry, which is why "Europe" is not included in the regions mentioned by psycat90. Wiki on phylloxera:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phylloxera
Quote:
In the late 1800s the Phylloxera epidemic destroyed most of the vineyards for wine grapes in Europe. Phylloxera was inadvertently introduced to Europe in the 1860s, possibly on imported North American vinestocks or plants. Because phylloxera is native to North America, the native grape species there are at least partially resistant. By contrast, the European wine grape Vitis vinifera is very susceptible to the aphid. The epidemic devastated most of the European wine growing industry. In 1863 the first vines began to deteriorate in the southern Rhône region of France. The problem spread rapidly across the continent. In France alone, total wine production fell from 84.5 million hecta-liters in 1875 to only 23.4 million hecta-liters. Some estimates hold that between two-thirds and nine-tenths of all European vineyards were destroyed.
Quote:
The use of resistant American rootstock to guard against phylloxera also brought about a debate that remains unsettled to this day: whether self-rooted vines produce better wine than those that are grafted. Of course, the argument is essentially irrelevant wherever phylloxera exists. Had American rootstock not been available and used, there would be no V. vinifera wine industry in Europe or most other places other than Chile, Washington State, and most of Australia.

Last edited by yabob; 02-26-2007 at 04:33 PM..
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  #12  
Old 02-26-2007, 05:35 PM
psycat90 psycat90 is offline
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I’m glad someone mentioned the phylloxera issue again. I went to bed last night thinking I should clarify some points made in this thread, but was too tired to, and then too busy today at work. Now that I have a free minute or two I can try, although it looks like much of this is covered in the Wiki article linked to by yabob.

After the phylloxera outbreak in the mid to late 1800s viticulturists in both Europe and America experimented with ways to defeat the bug. 2 proved successful – hybrids and grafting.
The hybrids were the result of genetic breeding, usually a vinifera vine and a labrusca vine, or some other native North American species creating a new vine with the characteristics of both parents.
Some found the wine made from hybrid grapes did in fact contain the ‘foxiness’ of labrusca (I think this is what CalMeacham was referring to) or just did not make wine that was considered tasty, many were and have since been outlawed in France.
There are still some relatively popular hybrids grown on the East coast and Midwest US – Vidal Blanc, Baco Noir, Seyval Blanc, and Chambourcin are some examples.


Grafting did not impart foxiness into the wines (which is why I noted that the foxiness problem never existed with it.) However, many French farmers were still resistant to grafting and claims were thrown around that the foxiness would come through in the wine. When it was finally proven that it would not, and the French became more desperate as more crops died, they accepted grafting.

Grafting onto North American rootstock species (and some hybrids now bred for rootstock purposes, such as the infamous AXR1) is pretty much common practice around the world now; with the exception of Chile (it is geographically isolated from phylloxera.) While much of Australia’s vinifera vines are planted on their own roots, I think many new plantings are being grafted onto American or hybrid rootstocks.
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  #13  
Old 02-26-2007, 09:28 PM
Stan Doubt Stan Doubt is offline
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I think the chemical that is responsible for "foxiness" is methyl anthranilate. It has a characteristic "fake grape" smell and is used in candy, gum, and other foods. It is also interesting to note that it is very distasteful to birds, so much so that it can be an effective goose repellent treatment for turf grass
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  #14  
Old 07-01-2007, 08:52 PM
Gozu Gozu is offline
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I just thought I'd mention that I was completely unable to find any non-foxy tasting grape juice so far. The ones that list the variety used usually say concord or Niagara and the evil foxiness is present in both.
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  #15  
Old 07-02-2007, 06:39 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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We just visited a New Hampshire winery yesterday that sold another Labrusca wine that isn't objectionably "fruity" or sweet -- Jewell Towne Winery in South Hampton (yeah, two words) sells a Cayuga that is agreeably dry. We picked some up, and even Pepper Mill (who can't stand my Widmer's Lake Niagara) likes it.


Quote:
The ones that list the variety used usually say concord or Niagara and the evil foxiness is present in both.
Watch that "Evil", fella. To so of us (as noted above) that "foxiness" is requisite. But it's probably an acquired taste.

I have encountered non-Labrusca US grape juice, but it's certainly not common. You might try some of the Gourmet or All Natural food stores.
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  #16  
Old 07-02-2007, 10:49 AM
Hunter Hawk Hunter Hawk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gozu
I just thought I'd mention that I was completely unable to find any non-foxy tasting grape juice so far. The ones that list the variety used usually say concord or Niagara and the evil foxiness is present in both.
If you have a Whole Foods store near you, try looking there. The one near my workplace is currently carrying juice made from several different kinds of wine grapes--cabernet, chardonnay, gewurztraminer, and IIRC merlot. I tried the cab and chard, and thought they both made for remarkably bland juice...then again, I like foxy grapes, so YMMV.
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  #17  
Old 07-02-2007, 11:05 AM
butler1850 butler1850 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
We just visited a New Hampshire winery yesterday that sold another Labrusca wine that isn't objectionably "fruity" or sweet -- Jewell Towne Winery in South Hampton (yeah, two words) sells a Cayuga that is agreeably dry. We picked some up, and even Pepper Mill (who can't stand my Widmer's Lake Niagara) likes it..
How was that place? I lived in some condominiums that abutted that land (via the power lines, and over the state line) prior to their opening up... Great wines, their Maréchal Foch is a particular favorite of mine. I didn't realize they had so many varieties, as I've only ever seen it in the supermarket. I'll have to visit!
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  #18  
Old 07-02-2007, 12:45 PM
AskNott AskNott is offline
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It's John Steinbeck's fault. That aftertaste is the wrath of grapes.
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