Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Sultana, also known as Sultaniye, Sultanina, and Sultanine. Its origins are thought to be eastern Mediterranean. Even further east it is known by variants on Kismis and in Egypt as Banati. It is the most important white grape variety used to produce the pale brown drying grapes sometimes called sultanas and has in its time been the single most-planted vine variety in the world covering an estimated 344,000 ha/850,000 acres of vineyard, much of it in the Middle East. The fruit of the Sultana vine, called thompson seedless in California, is remarkable for its versatility. As well as being dried, it can be vinified into a neutral white wine and, especially after treatment with gibberellin growth regulators to increase berry size, is a much sought-after crisp, green, seedless table grape. In widely varying locations, it has provided base material for some, usually undistinguished, wines. In some viticultural regions, such as Australia’s riverland and California’s central valley, the Sultana harvest has occasionally been diverted to whatever happens to be the most profitable end use, including wine in times of wine grape shortage.