Muscadine Wine 101: Offbeat Wine Varieties

Muscadine Wine bottles next to filled wine glasses

Few wines capture the romanticism of the south like muscadine wine. 

With its origin in the hot southern climates of the United States, this fruity wild grape has become an iconic part of Americana culture and continues to bring waves of joy to those who partake. 

Ranging from crisp sweet flavors evocative of warm summer nights spent lounging on a porch swing or deep, rich notes perfect for pairing with wood-fired seafood dishes, muscadine wine’s versatility makes it an attractive option to both novice and experienced drinkers alike. 

Although it’s gotten a bad rap from the wine snob community, Muscadine is a wine I absolutely love to indulge in. It’s just misunderstood. 

What is Muscadine Wine?

Muscadine is native to the Southeastern United States. Although most wine grapes we drink, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay, are Vitis Vinifera, Muscadine is a species of grape called Vitis Rotundifolia. These grapes range in color from green to black and are typically very large in size, sometimes even reaching as big as a golf ball! 

Muscadine wine can be made as a white wine, rose wine, or a red wine. It ranges in style from dry to sweet.

Large muscadine grapes in a woman's hands

Muscadine Grape Benefits

Muscadine wine is actually one of the healthiest wines for you. Muscadine grapes are packed with antioxidants (polyphenols), as well as resveratrol and ellagic acid. Muscadine grapes are the only wine grape that produces ellagic acid and recent studies show that ellagic acid can target conditions related to obesity, including reducing fatty liver.  

Not only are muscadine grapes good for your body’s interior, but they can also help promote better skin by reducing wrinkle formation from anti-aging enzymes. Studies show muscadines may even help with reducing the risk of breast and colon cancer due to their high level of antioxidant phenols. If you’re looking for an alcoholic beverage with numerous health benefits, muscadine wine is the perfect option to enjoy responsibly!

How to Eat Muscadine Grapes

Muscadine grapes have incredibly thick skins. While some people opt to squeeze out the fleshy interior and skip it, I recommend eating the skin. Many of the health benefits of muscadine grapes are found in the skin, including dietary fibers and antioxidants that can help fight chronic diseases. 

To eat a Muscadine grape without the skin, simply squeeze each grape so the pulp goes into your mouth. Discard the skin and spit out the seeds. 

Otherwise, eat as you would any other grape from the grocery store, just being careful to not swallow any seeds. 

Muscadine wine flight - white muscadine, rose muscadine, and red muscadine wine

What does Muscadine Taste Like?

Muscadine grapes can produce white, rose, and red wines. All offer intense fruit flavors, such as banana, overripe apples, and cranberries. Other subtler notes include herbal and floral notes. Some wine connoisseurs describe Muscadine as “foxy” due to its racy, wild characteristics; others note unusual flavors, such as rubber cement. 

Muscadine wine is made in a complete range of styles, from dry to super sweet. Be sure to check the label or ask the producer if you’re unsure. 

Muscadine Taste Profile

Dry/Sweet: Usually sweet, but drier styles can be made as well

Body: Medium

Flavors: Ripe Banana, Lime Peel, Bruised Apple, Cranberry, Melon, Rubber Cement, Pine Resin

Acidity: Medium-Plus

Similar to: Because it’s a different grape species than “typical” wine, it’s completely unlike anything else. Red muscadine can be similar to Beaujolais Nouveau, but way more intense in fruity flavors/aromas. White versions could be most compared to a Moscato, but with a spicier, funkier edge to it. 

Muscadine wine grapes in a bowl

Muscadine Food Pairings

What grows together goes together. Since it’s native to the American South, I love Muscadine wines paired with American comfort foods, such as fried chicken and roasted BBQ. Since many expressions of it are sweet, it also pairs excellently with spicy foods – mix it up with Thai food, fiery chicken wings, or Cajun dishes. 

Where does Muscadine Wine Grow?

Muscadine primarily grows in the Southeastern United States. Most of the 3200 acres of Muscadine are planted in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida. I even tried some at an Alabama winery!


Are muscadine wines always sweet? 

No! Muscadine is made in a full range of styles, including completely dry. Many wineries will make muscadine in this full spectrum. Most expressions of the variety, however, tend to be sweet. 

Does muscadine make good wine? 

Yes! Muscadine is a very specific grape that’s unlike our traditional wines like Pinot Noir or Cabernet. Different doesn’t always mean bad, however! Many people LOVE the sweet tanginess and southern-style muscadine wine. Keep an open mind and give it a try!

Can you eat raw muscadine grapes?

Yes! Just like table grapes, muscadine grapes are great for snacking on. Just note that they have thicker skins, leading to higher fiber content. They’re also a rich source of antioxidants that fight free radicals, cancer cells, and heart disease.