Q: What is the French Paradox and what does it have to do with grapes? 

In the spirit of the NSW Wine Festival taking place in Hyde Park this weekend, our bulletin this week is dedicated to the world’s fifth largest fruit crop- grapes. While an estimated 71% of grapes are destined to become wine, an impressive 27%, equivalent to around 18 million tonnes, are consumed fresh each year (FAO, 2007).

Home grown grapes are available in Australia from November to May. There are hundreds of varieties available, so many stores categorise them based on their colour and whether they have a seed. However, the different varieties do have slightly different flavours, shapes and textures, so to help you choose the right grape to go with your cheese platter and glass of vino, here’s the lowdown on Aussie grapes.

Selection & Storage: 

As a general rule, for a good grape look to the stem. If it is green, firm and well attached then the fruit should be sweet and juicy.

In red and black grapes look for a light white coat on the fruit. This coating is 100% natural and protects the fruit from damage- the less coating, the more handling and longer storage time the grape will have seen. (It is also present on green varieties, but hard to see)

If you see green grapes with an amber hue, snap them up. This indicated they were ripened on the vine for longer and as with tomatoes, the longer the fruit sits on the vine, the better the flavour.


Table grapes have been selectively bred to cater to consumer preferences for sweet, seedless varieties- below are our top 4 in terms of production.

MENINDEE SEASON: early season 


Available: Dec - Feb

Colour: light green – yellow

Size/Shape: small to medium oval

Texture: firm flesh

Flavour: sweet, very slightly tart

Seeds: No



Available: Jan - May

Colour: pale golden green

Size/Shape: medium oblong

Texture: delicate skin, firm flesh

Flavour: sweet, juicy

Seeds: no




Available: Feb - May

Colour: light red

Size/Shape: medium oval

Texture: thick skin, crisp flesh

Flavour: neutral, juicy

Seeds: no




Available: Dec - May

Colour: pink-red

Size/Shape: very large, round

Texture: crisp, fleshy

Flavour: very sweet

Seeds: yes


Other varieties worth a mention include: 



Available: Jan - Apr

Colour: blue- black

Size/Shape: medium round

Texture: firm skin, soft juicy flesh

Flavour: excellent sweet, musky flavour

Seeds: yes




Available: Jan - May

Colour: red – purple

Size/Shape: large, round

Texture: soft skin, juicy flesh

Flavour: distinctively sweet

Seeds: yes




Available: Nov - Mar

Colour: dark red

Size/Shape: medium, round

Texture: crisp, crunchy

Flavour: slightly tart

Seeds: no


RIBIERS: very popular dark grape variety


Available: Feb - May

Colour: black

Size/Shape: large, round

Texture: crisp skin, tender and juicy pulp

Flavour: sweet, tart

Seeds: yes




Available: Apr-May and Nov-Dec

Colour: golden green

Size/Shape: large, oblong

Texture: firm, juicy

Flavour: sweet

Seeds: yes


A: The French Paradox refers to the inconsistency between the high level of saturated fat in the French diet  and their low rate of heart disease. It is believed that the French penchant for drinking red wine, helps protects them from the dangers of eating saturated fat. 

Studies show that in moderation, red wine reduces blood pressure and other risk factors of heart disease. In particular, the antioxidants contained in grape skin (only used in red wine production) are proven to reduce constriction and blockage of the blood vessels.