Japan Ruby Roman grapes. The land of the Rising Sun will always amaze us. Last strangeness to date: a man has paid nearly 1.1 million yen, or approximately 11 thousand dollars, in an auction. The price would not be much of an issue if it was for a necklace set with diamonds, or a famous painting, but it was for a bunch of grapes of exactly thirty grains.
The price of a single grape thus amounts to some 371 dollars. An unprecedented sum that beats the previous record of one million yen (8,936 euros) established last year when someone bought another cluster, in the same auction market. The price of this variety has increased significantly in recent years: in 2011, the most expensive cluster was sold at “only” 300,000 yen, or about 2,700 euros.
How to explain such a price? Simply by its rarity. This table grape variety, the Ruby Roman, with grains as large as plums is grown and sold only in the prefecture of Ishikawa, on the west coast of the archipelago, since 1994. This grape, reputed to be the most expensive in the world, is particularly popular with luxury hotels, high-end pastries or at weddings.
The Ruby Roman is subject to a stringent quality control, before being auctioned each year along with other fresh produce and seafood at the Hatsuzeri market. The grains must weigh more than twenty grams, contain at least 18% sugar and release only very little acidity. There are even clusters of luxury, meeting the so-called Premium Class, whose grains must weigh thirty grams minimum. Only six clusters received the label in 2010, none in 2011.
The lucky buyer of this prize-winning cluster, Takamaru Konishi, was actually the representative of the Kurashi Kaitai supermarket, located in the Hyogo province of Amagasaki. According to the Japan Times, the latter said that these grapes would be distributed free of charge in the supermarket. This is not the first time Kurashi Kaitai has done this: in May 2016, nearly three million yen (30,000 dollars) had been put on the table against a pair of Yubari King variety melons, which is produced only on the Hokkaido Island, northern Japan.