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Are These the Most Expensive Grapes in the World?

Rachel Tepper Paley
July 9, 2014

Photo credit: samshou/Blogspot

How much money would you shell out for an exquisite bunch of grapes? Five dollars? $10? Try $5,400—that’s what a wedding hall operator in Japan plunked down at an auction on Saturday.

His prize? A 30-grape bunch of Ruby Romans, a Japanese specialty fruit that local Ishikawa prefecture producers first brought to market in 2008. According to AsiaOne, just 16,000 bunches will be sold this year—and only in Ishikawa prefecture.

To be deemed a true Ruby Roman, a grape must meet a strict set of standards: each must weigh at least 20 grams, have a sugar content of more than 18 percent, and be a deep, cherry-tomato red in hue. Its flavor profile is said to be the perfect balance of sweet and juicy

And it’d better be! This isn’t the first time Ruby Romans have fetched a mind-boggling price. In 2011, an upscale Japanese pastry shop paid $6,400 for a single bunch, and in 2008, a hotel manager paid $910.

Although such prices might not fly in the United States, in Japan the fancy fruit market is thriving. “Fruit is generally expensive in Japan, and people often buy grapes, peaches and melons as luxury gifts,” reads an Associated Press dispatch, reminding us of this oh-so-coveted banana. “Japanese are often willing to pay top prices for high-end fruits, especially for the prestige of owning the very first ones of the year.”

Many American reactions on the web are what you might expect—completely befuddled:

These are not your garden variety grapes, Rich.

It’s hard to disagree with this sentiment.

Neither can we, Clark. Neither can we.