Red Emperor and Flame Tokay, black Ribier, purple-blue Concord, yellow-gold Muscat, green Thompson: Autumn grapes have a greatly expanded season, the result of improved varieties and innovative harvesting and storage practices.
Like many other fruits, grapes don't get sweeter after they've been picked, so regardless of the variety, look for well-developed color unless you like sour grapes. Red or purple varieties are sweetest when their color is deep and rich; in golden and green varieties, a yellow or amber cast signals sweetness.
Red grapes add juicy sweetness and color to a Waldorf salad. Grape sorbet makes a striking finale for a dinner party.
Serves 6 to 8
1/3 cup each: plain yogurt and mayonnaise
1 tablespoon each: brown sugar and grated orange zest
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 medium, tart, red-skinned apples
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 cups halved, seeded red grapes
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
To prepare dressing, in small bowl, blend yogurt, mayonnaise, sugar, orange zest and nutmeg until smooth; set aside.
Core (but do not peel) and dice apples to make 5 to 6 cups. Sprinkle with orange juice. Add grapes, celery and walnuts. Add dressing; toss. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.
Serve on lettuce leaves.
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 cup fresh or bottled grape juice, chilled
2 tablespoons raspberry-flavored vinegar
In saucepan over high heat, cook sugar and water to make a simple syrup. Stir constantly, until sugar dissolves and mixture reaches rolling boil. Immediately remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Strain through sieve into jar. Cover; allow syrup to cool to 40 degrees.
Combine syrup, grape juice and vinegar. Transfer to ice cream machine and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. To serve, scoop sorbet into chilled wineglasses.