Luxury fruit goes head-to-head with a supermarket bunch.

For a while now, our Japanese-language reporters have been refining their palates by blind-tasting pairs of fruit, attempting to identify which one was bought at a luxury store and which one was bought at a supermarket.

So far, it’s been an eye-opening experience with a surprising amount of incorrect guesses, so the team is back at it again, this time testing a popular grape known as “Shine Muscat”.

▼ Our reporters prepare for another eye-opener.

Shine Muscat has become become known as some of the finest quality fruit you can buy, thanks to its seedless, super-sweet flavour profile and thin skin, which means it doesn’t have to be peeled like other thicker-skinned Japanese grape varieties.

▼ A Shine Muscat parfait.

Because of the general high-quality nature of the grape variety, identifying the more expensive of the bunch was going to be a challenge for the team, but as always, they were up for the task.

The two types we’ll be testing today are “Hareo” from Okayama Prefecture, purchased for 10,800 yen (US$75.04) at department store Isetan, and an unnamed Shine Muscat from Yamanashi Prefecture, purchased at a supermarket for 1,580 yen ($11).

▼ “Hareo” (left) comes from one of Japan’s leading Muscat production areas, and is said to be the finest brand of Shine Muscat, cultivated within strict quality standards.

Visually, the Hareo variety looks more uniform in colour, but that wouldn’t make a difference to our taste testers, who would be blindfolded for the duration of the test. Would the sevenfold price difference between the two become clear in the tasting, though? Let’s get right to it and see if our reporters can pick the more expensive bunch!

P.K. Sanjun: B

“The decisive factor for choosing B was sweetness. The peak level of sweetness was higher in B. A was also really good, but compared to B, it seemed a little watery, so I’ll place my trust in pure sweetness and go with B.”

Go Hatori: B

“I don’t have much experience with Shine Muscat, so I’m not confident about this, but the skin seemed noticeably different to regular Japanese grapes. B had a real sweetness — almost an artificial sweetness, but A wasn’t as refined. The more expensive one should display improvement of the variety, so the answer is B.”

Seiji Nakazawa: B

“Recently, I ate Shine Muscat for the first time, and since then I’ve been eating it a lot. I’m confident the more expensive one is B, but I’m not sure if it’s worth a difference of 9,000 yen. The sugar content didn’t change that much, but B had a more grape flavour and was more delicious. So I chose B.”

Masanuki Sunakoma: A

“I love Okayama, so if it’s made in Okayama, I’m usually impressed by it. However, to be honest, I wasn’t impressed with A, and even less impressed with B. I wouldn’t pay over 10,000 yen for either of these. I once bought grapes direct from a grower in Okayama Prefecture, and at that time I really liked them, but that wasn’t the case here. In the end I went with B, the least impressive.”

Ahiruneko: A

“I’ve only eaten Shine Muscat once, so I don’t have much of a yardstick to go by. Honestly, there wasn’t that much of a difference in taste, but it felt like B had some sort of foreign substance on the skin. A wasn’t very good either, but B had a lot of demerit points so I chose A.”

Mr Sato: B

“This tasting is difficult…so difficult. Well, I’m just going on blind hope by saying it’s B. I think a cheaper grape would have a more noticeable skin and I think that was the case with A. They seem almost the same in terms of sweetness so I’m not sure, but let’s go with B.”

Yoshio Ueda: B

“My wife likes Shine Muscat so I eat a lot of them, which is why I can tell that B is the more expensive one. The sugar content is overwhelmingly different — B was so sweet it was like licking sugar cubes. I personally like A, but I think more expensive fruits are generally sweeter so it’s B!”

Yuuichiro Wasai: A

“I’ve eaten Shine Muscat a few times…but I can’t tell the difference! I think A tasted better, but B was obviously bigger so I’m not sure. I did notice a difference in the aftertaste — A had more of a grape flavour and B’s seemed slightly inferior, so I think A was more delicious, and therefore more expensive.”

Ikuna Kamezawa: B

“I think this might be my first time eating Shine Muscat. I was expecting the difference to be noticeable but they seemed surprisingly similar. I felt that the skin on B was a little hard but it was smoother. This was seriously the hardest taste-test I’ve done so far, but I’m going with B!”

Takashi Harada: A

“I don’t eat a lot of Shine Muscat. Honestly, I thought there was almost no difference between these two but I feel like A had a slightly stronger punch of sweetness. B was also delicious, but I got tired of the taste after about three of them, whereas I could eat five of the A bunch easily. I reckon A was sweeter, so that’s what I’m going with.”

So, after gathering responses from ten of our reporters, the results were in — the office was divided 4:6  in favour of B being the most expensive grape. So which group was correct in their choice? The four on the left of the room or the six on the right?

▼ Everybody prayed to the gods as they waited for the results…

▼ The winners are…the six on the right, with grape B!

As the losers lowered their heads in shame, the winners took a victory lap of the office, picking up grapes as they went and giving us their post-win comments. Let’s take a look at what they all had to say, in order from the current highest-ranked taste tester in the office to the lowest.

▼ Ikuna, with a record 10 wins and 2 losses (a correct answer rate of 83.3 percent) under her belt so far: “This was the most difficult taste test to date!”

▼ Seiji, close behind with a correct answer rate of 80 percent: “The better one is the more expensive one!”

▼ P.K. (correct answer rate 75 percent): “B was sweeter, wasn’t it?”

▼ Takashi (correct answer rate 55.5 percent): “A had a sweeter punch.”

Go (correct answer rate 55.5 percent): “Ultimate improvement of the grape variety!”

▼ Ahiruneko (correct answer rate 52.9 percent): “B had a lot of demerit points but I obviously lack self-awareness as a professional.”

▼ Yoshio (correct answer rate 52.9 percent): “B was as sweet as licking sugar cubes.”

▼ Masanuki (correct answer rate 52.6 percent): “I wasn’t impressed by either of them.”

▼ Mr Sato (correct answer rate 50 percent): “I just wanted it to be B, that is all.”

▼ Yuuichiro (correct answer rate: 38.4 percent): “I chose A because I thought it was delicious!”

While our taste-testers may have been divided in their opinions of the grapes, they all agreed on one thing — this was a hard tasting. The Shine Muscat is such a well-designed, high-quality variety that it was hard to pick the more expensive bunch.

▼ Take a look at the blindfolded taste-testing below:

Still, our reporters didn’t do too badly, with 60 percent of them correctly identifying the more expensive grape. Sure, they may have a while to go before they’re able to perfect their palates, but it’s a much better result than when they tasted these Japanese cherries.

Photos © SoraNews24
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