Muscadine Varieties for Wine

All grapes are not created equal. Some are cultivated for fresh eating, and others for pressing into making and juice wine. Muscadines (Vitis rotundifolia) are grapes that boom from the heat, humidity and long growing seasons of the native southeastern United States. Several muscadine varieties are grown especially for wine-making due to their juice grade and pigment firmness.

Grape Species

Muscadines differ in look, taste and culture from other grape species. Other American native grapes (V. labrusca) develop in colder regions of the USA, and European grapes (V. vinifera) thrive from the Mediterranean climate of California vineyards. French hybrids are crosses of European and American grapes. In areas outside the southeastern United States, muscadines do not boom, but their rootstock is favored. Because of its natural resistance to diseases and insects, viticulturists prefer muscadine rootstock for grafting other grape species.

Muscadine Wine Grapes

Muscadine grapes mature individually in loose clusters instead of simultaneously in bunches such as other grapes. Harvesting muscadines leaves a stem scar at the point where individual grapes attach to stems. Grapes for ingesting should have a “dry stem scar” so they pull from vines and hold well after harvest. Wine grape varieties have “wet stem scars” that make them suitable for making and pressing juice. Another varietal thought for muscadine wine grapes is pigment firmness. Muscadine grape pigments are more unstable than other species, which causes juice to undertake a brown cast over time. Selecting muscadine varieties with stable pigments makes the best wine.

Red Wine Varieties

Purple and purplish-black muscadine grapes make red wine. “Noble” is the principal variety for creating red muscadine wine due to its many desirable traits over its counterparts. Its purple shells have more stability than most other muscadines. “Noble” is a productive, disease-resistant vine that bears grapes with high-quality flavor. The muscadine grape breeding program in the University of Georgia lists “Noble” as the leading red-wine cultivar and recommends it as the premier choice for this particular use. “Regale” has a distinctive flavor and productive habit, making it a different desirable red-wine grape.

White Wine Varieties

Bronze-colored muscadines make wine. “Carlos” is the top bronze collection for juice processing and wine making. In certain areas where “Carlos” is susceptible to berry decay, “Doreen” is a suitable substitute due to its higher disease resistance. “Doreen” bears exceptional football-shaped grapes on productive and vigorous vines. “Magnolia” has greater cold tolerance than other varieties although it ripens unevenly, which necessitates staggered harvests. “Welder” is just another bronze collection which bears prolifically on powerful vines.

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