ingredient information
Vitis vinifera
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Vitis vinifera (Common Grape Vine) is a species of Vitis, native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe, and southwestern Asia, from Morocco and Spain north to southern Germany and east to northern Iran.[1] It is a liana growing to 35 m tall, with flaky bark. The leaves are alternate, palmately lobed, 5–20 cm long and broad. The fruit is a berry, known as a grape; in the wild species it is 6 mm diameter and ripens dark purple to blackish with a pale wax bloom; in cultivated plants it is usually much larger, up to 3 cm long, and can be green, red, or purple. The species typically occurs in humid forests and streamsides. The wild grape is often classified as V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris (in some classifications considered Vitis sylvestris), with V. vinifera subsp. vinifera restricted to cultivated forms. Domesticated vines have hermaphrodite flowers, but subsp. sylvestris is dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants) and pollination is required for fruit to develop. It is cultivated on every continent on Earth except for Antarctica. In Europe, in the central and southern regions; in Asia, in the western regions (Anatolia, Caucasus, Middle east) and in China; In Africa, along the northern Mediterranean coast and in South Africa; in North America, in California, Mexico and also other areas like (New Mexico, New York (state), British Columbia, Canada); in South America in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brasil; in Oceania in Australia and New Zealand. Use of grapes is known to date back to Neolithic times, following the discovery in 1996 of 7,000 year-old wine storage jars in present-day northern Iran.[5] Further evidence shows the Mesopotamians and Ancient Egyptians had vine plantations and winemaking skills. Greek philosophers praised the healing powers of grapes both whole and in the form of wine. Vitis vinifera cultivation and winemaking in China began during the Han Dynasty in the second century[6] with the importation of the species from Ta-Yuan. However, wild vine "mountain grapes" like Vitis thunbergii were being used for wine making before that time.[7] Using the sap of grapevines, European folk healers sought to cure skin and eye diseases.[citation needed] Other historical uses include the leaves being used to stop bleeding, pain and inflammation of hemorrhoids. Unripe grapes were used for treating sore throats, and raisins were given as treatments for consumption (tuberculosis), constipation and thirst. Ripe grapes were used for the treatment of cancer, cholera, smallpox, nausea, skin and eye infections as well as kidney and liver diseases.[citation needed] Seedless grape varieties were developed to appeal to consumers, but researchers are now discovering that many of the healthful properties of grapes may actually come from the seeds themselves, thanks to their enriched phytochemical content.[8][9] Grapevine leaves are filled with minced meat (such as lamb or beef), rice and onions in the making of Balkan traditional dolma. A grapevine is depicted on the reverse of the Croatian 2 lipa coin, minted since 1993.