Botanical name: 

Related entry: Vinum.—Wine

The dried fruits of Vitis vinifera, Linné.
Nat. Ord.—Vitaceae.
SYNONYM: Uva passa (U. S. P., 1870).
ILLUSTRATION: Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 66.

Botanical Source.Vitis vinifera, or European wine grape. This is a climbing shrub, which has been known in nearly all parts of the globe from a very early period. There are many varieties of it, which will generally be found to agree in most respects with the following description of De Candolle: Leaves lobed, sinuated, toothed, smooth or downy, flat or crisp, pale or deep-green; branches prostrate, climbing, or erect, tender, or hard; racemes or branches loose or compact, ovate or cylindrical; fruit or berries red, yellow, or purple, watery or fleshy, globose-ovate or oblong, sweet, musky, or austere. Calyx somewhat 5-toothed; petals 5, cohering at the point, separating at the base, and dropping off like a calyptra. Stamens 5. Style none. Berry 2-celled and 4-seeded; the cells or seeds are often. abortive.

History and Chemical Composition.—The grape-vine grows wild in the south of Asia and in Greece, and was, probably, first cultivated in the East at an exceedingly remote period. Scripture informs us that Noah, after leaving the ark, "planted a vineyard and drank of the wine." At present, it is cultivated in the warm, temperate climates of Europe and America; in this country, notably in California, Ohio, New York, and Virginia. Vitis vinifera, grown in the United States, yields the Californian grapes known as the Mission, Riesling, Gutedel, etc., while several wild species of this country have been successfully cultivated. Thus, the grapes known as Concord, Catawba, Isabella, Delaware, are varieties of Vitis Labrusca, Linné (Fox or Plum grape); the Taylor and Clinton grapes come from V. riparia, Michaux (Frost grape); the Muscadine, or Scuppernong, from V. vulpina, Linné; and Herbemont, and others from V. aestivalis, Michaux (Summer grape). (On the early cultivation of the grape near Cincinnati, and diseases of the vine, see E. S. Wayne, Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1855, pp. 494-499; also see an interesting article on mildew and grape culture, by Henry S. Manger, ibid., 1887, pp. 433-437.) The leaves and the tendrils (pampini vitis) of the grape-vine are somewhat astringent, and were formerly employed in diarrhoea, hemorrhages, and other morbid discharges. According to A. Hilger and L. Gross (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1887, p. 267), the young shoots and leaves contain potassium bitartrate, calcium tartrate, tartaric and malic acids, quercetin, tannin, starch, gum, dextrose, saccharose, inosit, oxalic and glycolic acids, an ether-soluble substance, ammonium salts, and calcium sulphate and phosphate; in Autumn, malic acid and inosit are absent. The tendrils contain much pectin, also sugar, potassium bitartrate, calcium oxalate, and traces of tannin and resin. The sap, exuding from cut vines, was found by Hilger and Gross (loc. cit.) to contain sugar, inosit, a mucilaginous body, succinic acid, tartrates and citrates, while the aqueous liquid, exuding in spring from the young twigs, contains carbon dioxide, potassium nitrate, ammonium salts, calcium sulphate, phosphate, and tartrate, magnesium phosphate, sugar, inosit, succinic and oxalic acids (Husemann and Hilger, Pflanzenstoffe, Vol. II, 1884, p. 888). The juice of the unripe fruit (agresta) is called omphacium, and contains malic, citric, tartaric, and racemic acids, with bitartrate of potassium, sulphates of potassium and calcium, a little tannic acid, etc. The juice of the ripe fruit is called must; when fermented, it is called wine (see Vinum).

GRAPES.—Ripe grapes are a most delicious and refreshing fruit, the juice of which is especially adapted to patients with fevers, and which, in large quantities, proves aperient and diuretic, but, eaten moderately, will be found beneficial to those disposed to diarrhoea or dysentery; they are useful in many instances of acidity of the stomach. The skin and seeds of the grape are indigestible, and apt to occasion serious intestinal disease, and should, therefore, never be swallowed. Dr. Cullen considered ripe, sweet grapes the safest and most nutritive of all fruits. According to J. König (Die Menschl. Nahrungs- und Genussmittel, 3d ed., 1893), ripe grapes contain on an average: Water (78.17 per cent), nitrogenous matter (0.59 per cent), free acid (0.79 per cent, or from 0.5 to 1.4 per cent), sugar (14.36 per cent, or from 9.3 to 18.7 per cent), other nitrogen-free substances (1.96 per cent); seeds and skins (3.6 percent), and ash (0.53 percent). Hilger and Gross (loc. cit.) name the following constituents of the grape: Tartaric and malic acids, free and combined with potassium and calcium, tannic, succinic, glyoxylic, and glycolic acids, inosit, dextrose, laevulose, albuminoids, and traces of quercitrin and quercetin. The skins of grapes contain much tannin, and the red grapes contain a blue coloring matter (oenocyanin), which is believed to be identical with the coloring matter of huckleberries. Acids, e. g., tartaric acid, turn it red; ammonia blue (see A. Andrée, Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1880, p. 205, from Archiv der Pharm., 1880). It is supposed to originate from the tannin of the grape (oenotannin) by oxidation. The source of the sugar formed during the ripening process of the grape, is not clearly established. It is not derived, however, from the acid of the grape, as was formerly believed. (For researches on the maturing of the grape, see C. Neubauer [1868], E. Mach and C. Portele [1879], and J. König, loc. cit.) The stems of grapes contain much tannic acid. The seeds, likewise, are rich in tannic acid, and contain from 10 to 18 per cent of a fatty oil, consisting of the glycerides of palmitic, stearic, oleic, and erucic acids (C22H42O2) (A. Fitz, 1871).

RAISINS.—Grapes, when properly dried, are denominated raisins (Uvae passae), of which there are several kinds known in commerce. The finest are the Spanish or Malaga raisins (Uvae Malacenses, or Uvae passae majores), of which there are three kinds—Muscatels, Sun or Bloom raisins, and the Lexia raisins. Corinthian raisins (Uvae Corinthiaceae), or Dried currants (Uvae passae minores), are obtained from a very small grape, called the Black Corinth, and are produced in Greece, at Zante, Patras, etc. Raisins naturally contain more saccharine matter than fresh grapes, as may be seen by the saccharine efflorescence which is often noticeable upon their surfaces. The amount of sugar in raisins varies from 53 to 61 per cent (J. König, loc. cit.). Malaga raisins consist of dried bunches, while Valencia raisins are free from stems. Malaga raisins are large, fleshy, purplish-brown, sweet, and of fine flavor. A yellow-brown raisin, of a musky odor, and less pleasant in taste, is imported from Syria, and known as Smyrna raisins. A seedless kind, from Asia Minor, is called Sultana or Seedless raisins. Since about 1873, large quantities of raisins are being prepared in California from native grapes, chiefly from Feher Zagos, Muscat, and Muscatel, also from seedless Sultana. The grapes, at the proper point of ripeness, are exposed, in bunches on trays, to the heat of the sun for 6 or 8 days, and then placed in sweating boxes for about 2 weeks. The bunches are then sorted and packed. By careful manipulation, the raisins will neither be too dry, nor will they mold. They are put on the market either with the grapes attached to the stems, or stemless. (For an interesting description of this flourishing industry, see Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1890, p. 465; also see ibid., 1899, p. 5.)

Action and Medical Uses.—Raisins are used in medicine principally for imparting a flavor to various infusions, decoctions, etc. When eaten freely, they are apt to cause flatulency and other unpleasant symptoms, on account of their difficult digestibility. An excellent, pure, and sparkling wine may be made as follows: Take 12 pounds of good raisins, cut each raisin in two, and put them into a 5-gallon demijohn, nearly filled with clean, soft water; let it stand uncorked for about 14 days, then filter, bottle, and cork well. Upon the residue, after the wine is poured off, put as much water as before, let it stand a sufficient time, and the result will be a good white wine vinegar. Grapes are diuretic, probably owing to the grape-sugar present.

King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.