The Demystified Vine

Taking the mystery out of wine exploration!

Yes, yes, I know you know what “bloom” means.

In noun form, we’re looking at a general name for a flower – particularly one that is created specifically for its beauty – like a rose, for instance.

Yes, yes, I know you know what the other meaning is – the verb form whereby it shows the action of growth; an opening of the bulb or the general means of being “in flowering”. Yes, yes, friends, but what about the other meaning?

According to, “bloom” is also:

  1. A waxy or powdery whitish to bluish coating on the surface of certain plant parts, as on cabbage leaves or on a plum or grape.
  2. A similar coating, as on newly minted coins.
  3. Grayish blotches or streaks on the surface of chocolate produced by the formation of cocoa butter crystals.

Well, there you go. I didn’t know about (b) or (c), so I learned something in this process of trying to demystify something for you! Lovely! Let’s take a closer look at (a).

You’re in the grocery store, walking around the fruits & vegetables section. From afar, you see piles of green and red clusters sitting in bags that are half-folded open or zip-locked shut. Apples mean nothing at this point, and oranges can wait. You carefully maneuver your crooked-wheel shopping cart over to the grape stand…and it is grape! >Groan< What?

You start eyeing all the bags of fruit, picking a few up to check and see how many grape berries have shriveled or are moldy, and then you spot that “white stuff”.

There it is, folks. The white stuff. I used to think, before I became educated, that it was a pesticide residue or really weird dirt…or…even dust!

Bloom on grapes in vineyard. Photo Copyright 2012 Valerie Stride

Bloom on grapes in vineyard.
Photo Copyright 2012 Valerie Stride

Bloom, however, is a very natural substance; for you chemists out there, it is also known as oleanolic acid. Oleanolic acid is “widely distributed in food and medicinal plants” and “exhibits antitumor and antiviral properties”. For a reference on those quotes, in addition to a lovely little picture of the chemical itself, click here onto the wikipedia page. It’s duty in relation to grapes is to protect those precious grape berries from decomposition and helps prevent a those plump, beautiful berries from wrinkling too soon.


So, the next time you’re in the vineyard (or grocery store for that matter) and you’re strolling past those lovely grapes, you can give people the low-down on what that white powdery stuff is on those berries!

3 thoughts on “Bloom – What is it?

  1. Devonavar says:

    You forgot
    d. The visual effect of a TV signal being brighter than the TV is capable of producing, causing all the brightest areas of the image to “bloom” into solid white.

    Incidentally, bloom on fruit trends to be a sign of freshness. They will lose their patina a few days after being picked.

    1. Another definition! Holy multiple meaning word, Batman! Thanks for that Devon!

    2. mkphotomedia says:

      …and Devon forgot:

      e. [sensor bloom] in digital image capture, light from a light source or specular highlight spilling over to neighbouring pixels, causing what you expect to be a sharp highlight to render as a white blob with variously coloured edges (depending on your camera’s sensor design).

      The resulting image is usually rather less than tasty, unfortunately.

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