The Unusual Grapes You Can Now Get At Aldi

It started, as many lively food conversations do, as a Reddit thread on the Aldi forum. Grapes, when separated from wine, don't usually stop time. Except when they look like tiny eggplants, of course. "Anyone else's grapes look like these or have I been blind?" wrote the Redditor in question, posting a picture of the black, oblong grapes they'd recently picked up from their local Aldi

The unusual grapes haven't (yet) sparked the controversy that School Lunch in Sweden or  The Triple Bypass Shooter Sandwich did. But that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve to. These grapes are magnificent. They're dimple-ended, oddly oblong, seedless fruits that have a deep, rich purple skin that's so dark it's almost black. The Redditverse, despite its obvious enthusiasm for the fruits ("I wait every year for them to appear in stores!," exclaimed one Reiddtor), can't seem to decide exactly what they are. 

"Witch Finger grapes," suggests one forum participant. "Moon Drop grapes," argues another. Or might they, as a third suggests, be, "Sapphire grapes?" We've done the sleuthing for you. 

What's the story behind Aldi's designer grapes?

Both Witch Fingers grapes and Moon Drop grapes are exclusively produced by The Grapery in Bakersfield, California (via Wide Open Eats and Bon Appetit). The Grapery doesn't sell to Aldi so we ruled them out. 

We suspect that Aldi's designer grapes are "Sweet Sapphires." From what we can tell, Sweet Sapphires are Moon Drop Grapes' sister, developed by International Fruit Genetics, and its scientist, David Cain (via IFG and Eat Like No One). (For what it's worth, David Cain also helped come up with Moon Drops, according to Specialty Produce.) Astonishingly, Sweet Sapphires are just one of 66 different designer grapes that Cain's developed so far (via AP News). "A lot of fruit becomes tasteless by the time somebody buys it," Cain told NPR, "We want to change that." IFG describes their GMO-free Sweet Sapphires as "crisp," "large" and non-shatterable. Thank you, and yes please, Doctor Cain.

The grapes recently spotted at Aldi? They're probably from Bakersfield, California's Anthony Vineyards. The pictured packaging is almost identical to Anthony Vineyards' Red Seedless Grapes packaging, and in 2017 the company made an agreement with IFG allowing them to grow Sweet Sapphires (via And Now U Know). 

Bottom line? The grapes are delicious. Responses to Anthony Vineyard's Sweet-Sapphire-inspired Facebook post can attest to that. "I'm obsessed! Delicious grapes," writes one reviewer. "I have never tasted sweeter. Thank you!" writes another. 

Our advice? If you're local Aldi has Sweet Sapphires, snap them up!