Muscadine wine is incredibly underrated. In fact, it’s so underrated that many people have never even heard of it. Those people are missing out. Muscadine wines are incredibly delicious. Today, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about this underdog wine, from where it comes from to some amazing bottles to try.
What is Muscadine Wine?
Muscadine wine is incredibly underappreciated and has a bad reputation in the wine world. Muscadine wine is made from muscadine grapes, a tough, thick-skinned grape native to North America. They grow all around the Southeastern United States, and they’re very easy to grow. This means there is much less pesticide use on muscadine grapes, and they’re immune to various fungal diseases.
So why the bad rep?
One of the reasons muscadine grapes have a bad reputation may be that they’re very cheap. Winemakers can purchase 2,200 pounds of muscadine grapes for as little as $300. The same amount of Pinot Noir grapes would cost over $2,000.
Muscadine wines also have a reputation for being cloyingly sweet. This misconception dates back to old winemaking techniques. European winemakers would often add too much sugar to the wine to make the muscadine grapes taste like the varieties they were working with.
Muscadine grapes can be tricky for winemakers to work with. It’s difficult to produce a wine that is well-balanced and not too sweet.
However, working with muscadine grapes definitely has its benefits. They’re cheap to purchase, so wines can be sold at an incredible value. Muscadine grapes are incredibly resilient and have very thick skins, making them hard to penetrate with rot and disease. Plus, muscadines can grow to the size of golf balls, so winemakers get a ton of wine out of them.
In addition to being affordable and tough, muscadine grapes may also have some surprising health benefits. Muscadines are packed with polyphenols, resveratrol, and ellagic acid. These have been shown to help treat conditions such as obesity and liver problems. Studies show that this grape may even be able to suppress the growth of cancer cells. Muscadines have the highest level of polyphenols out of any wine. Polyphenols help support heart health and offer a variety of other benefits to your body, like boosting digestion and brain health.
One of the best parts of muscadine grapes is that they’re uniquely American. They’re one of the only wine grapes that are indigenous to the United States. In fact, the cultivation of muscadine grapes began all the way back in the 16th century in Florida. If you’re an American wine lover, you’ll love the fact that muscadine wines don’t have to be imported.
What does muscadine wine taste like?
Muscadine grapes are red; however, muscadine wines come in a variety of different types and styles. Muscadine wines can be reds, whites, or rosés. Muscadine wines can even be used to make sweet dessert-style wines.
Red, white, and rosé muscadine wines tend to be medium-bodied, with medium tannins and medium acidity. They can range in sweetness levels, but most are in the off-dry to sweet range. Muscadine wines usually have around 10-11.5% ABV and offer intense fruit flavors such as ripe banana, yellow apple, lime peel, and cranberry. Subtler notes may include herbal, floral, or citrus flavors and aromas.
Sweet, dessert-style muscadine wines are similar to Portuguese tawny port wines. They’re intensely sweet, but this sweetness is not naturally occurring. Many muscadine winemakers add copious amounts of sugar to their wines to counteract the natural bitterness of the grapes. Dessert-style muscadines offer extremely intense bruised fruit flavors, which may be off-putting to some. However, if you love sweet wines, this is definitely a style you’ll want to try.
How to drink muscadine wine
All types of muscadine wine are best served chilled. Serving wine chilled dulls the flavors and aromas, and since muscadine is so intensely flavorful, it benefits from being chilled. It will still be flavorful, even served ice cold. However, a serving temperature between 55 and 60 degrees is the best way to fully appreciate all the delicious fruity flavors going on.
Since muscadine wine is native to the Southern United States, it’s often paired with Southern comfort foods. The sweetness of muscadine pairs beautifully with fatty meats, like ribs, pork chops, pulled pork, and brisket. Muscadine is also wonderful served after a meal or paired with a sweet, flavorful, fruity dessert, like a trifle with fruit and custard.
Muscadine wines oxidize quickly, so it’s best to drink them young. Plus, many regions produce quality muscadine wines, despite their reputation for being cheap and overly sweet.
Fun facts about Muscadine
Muscadine grapes and muscadine wines are fascinating. Here’s a list of fun facts to help you get to know more about them.
- A single muscadine grapevine can grow upwards of 35 feet per year and can produce up to 90 pounds of grapes.
- One of the oldest grapevines globally is a Scuppernong (a type of muscadine), which was planted around 1584 on Roanoke Island.
- Muscadine grapes grow in places without too much frost.
- Grapes ripen independently and are hand-harvested from August to October.
- Muscadine varieties known for winemaking include Scuppernong, Carlos, Ison, Noble, and Higgins.
- Muscadine wine cultivation can be traced all the way back to 16th century Florida.
- Muscadine grapes can range in color from green to black and can grow to be the size of a golf ball.
- There are about 3,200 acres of muscadines planted throughout the Southeastern United States.
- The most common states for muscadine grapes are Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida.
- A common aromatic note for muscadine wines is rubber cement.
- Muscadine wines contain ellagic acid, a micronutrient known for its antioxidant properties. No other wine grape produces ellagic acid.
Best Muscadine wines to try
There are some poor quality muscadine wines out there, but there are some really good ones as well. Get started with the muscadines on this list, and we promise you’ll understand why you shouldn’t believe everything you hear about a wine’s reputation.
Duplin Carolina Red Muscadine
The Duplin Carolina Red Muscadine hails from North Carolina. This wine offers a burst of flavor on the palate and a clean finish. It’s a very sweet wine, made from late-harvest muscadine grapes. It’s velvety, sweet, and amazing served chilled on a warm summer evening.
Stonehaus Red Muscadine
Stonehaus Red Muscadine is a beautiful ruby red color. It’s very sweet and offers lots of gorgeous, fruity flavors. Muscadine grapes have been referred to as “God’s gift to the sunny south,” and this wine definitely proves that statement true. This muscadine is amazing served chilled as an aperitif or with dessert.
Apple Barn Muscadine
Apple Barn muscadine is a white muscadine wine produced in the heart of Tennessee. It’s beautifully sweet and oozes with yellow apples, canned pears, and sweet grape juice flavors. It’s wonderful served with dessert or by itself as an after-dinner treat.
Belle Mead Red Muscadine
Belle Mead winery is located just a few miles outside of Nashville, and they produce a ton of really great quality wines, including their Red Muscadine. This wine offers flavors of sweet strawberry juice and crushed raspberries. It’s very well-balanced and is wonderful served with fruity desserts like pies and tarts.
Georgia Winery Muscadine
Georgia Wineries Muscadine is very award-winning, and it’s easy to see why. It’s sweet, smooth, and tastes just like eating muscadine grapes right off the vine. It offers tons of flavors of sweet apples and bananas and is incredibly easy to sip. It offers a true taste of the South, no matter where you’re drinking it.
Muscadine wines are misunderstood. They often carry a reputation for being overly sweet, low-quality wines. However, this isn’t true. Muscadine grapes are incredibly unique and resilient, and they make some really amazing, beautifully sweet wines. Muscadine wines are packed with bold, fruity flavors and are an absolute treat served chilled on a warm summer day.
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