Catawba Wine Information
Catawba is a "created grape", developed in the 1800s. It was made out of a cross of vitis vinifera (traditional French grape style) along with vitis labrusca (the foxier tasting United States grape style) grapes. Many high end drinkers of wine look down at anything which is not Vitus Vinifera - so if you enjoy Catawba, be prepared for this prejudice :) From my point of view, every grape can make a delicious wine, and they all have their own styles. It's sort of like saying an apple is a "good flavor" and a raspberry is a "bad flavor". They are all just different flavors!
So that being said, wines made out of catawba *are* a bit foxy and "have an odor". Based on your point of view, that is good or bad :) Catawba is one of the sweeter vitis labrusca wines. These grapes are easier to grow in the eastern coast of the US than many other "French" grapes, so you often find things like Catawba in the Finger Lake region and New England area.
Catawba is a red grape, but just like they make a pink "white Zinfandel" wine out of red Zinfandel grapes, so do they also make a Pink Catawba wine out of the red catawba grapes. This means that instead of doing a full fermentation run with the grapes they instead only lightly use the skins during the winemaking process. This means fewer tannins come out of the skins into the wine, and less color as well. You end up with a lighter color and a sweeter flavor.
In addition to wines, catawba is also used for jellies and jams.
If you're looking for catawba in a wine store it's going to be a REAL challenge. Your best bet is to directly contact the wineries in the Finger Lakes region and see if they can ship some to you.
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