Shine Muscat, with its vibrant yellow-green hue, has become quite a trendy grape worldwide, especially among Japanese fruit enthusiasts in recent years. Known for its elegance, this grape variety offers a delectable sweetness and a mellow aroma that is irresistibly attractive. But what sets Shine Muscat apart from other grapes, especially Japanese grapes? Let's embark on a journey to explore this special grape and uncover the secrets behind its popularity.
What Are Shine Muscat Grapes?
Shine Muscat is renowned for its unique blend of qualities. It combines the best features of both European and American grapes. It offers a European grape's ability to be eaten with the skin intact, while boasting the ease of cultivation associated with American grapes. The sugar content in Shine Muscat grapes is quite high among grape variants, ranging from around 17 to 20 degrees, while the acidity remains low.
What Do Shine Muscat Grapes Look Like?
Shine Muscat grapes have earned their place among grape lovers for their neutral-flavored, unnoticeable skin. Unlike other Japanese grapes which tend to have thick, tough skin, Shine Muscat grapes have thin skin, similar to that of a Western grape.
The surface of the fruit presents varying shades of green to yellow-green, with a generally accepted belief that bunches with a more yellowish hue yield a sweeter taste. A soft, powdery bloom coats the grapes, giving them an appealing luster. Underneath the skin, you'll find pale yellow-green to translucent flesh that is firm, solid, succulent, and brimming with moisture.
Where Are Shine Muscat Grapes Grown?
Shine Muscat grapes flourish in various regions across Japan. They are primarily grown in Yamanashi, Nagano, Okayama, and Yamagata prefectures. However, more recently, Shine Muscat grapes have become so popular throughout Japan that they are now cultivated in most prefectures, with only a few exceptions.
How Are Shine Muscat Grapes Grown?
Vineyards are meticulously planned to balance sun and shade, and vines are pruned with precision to manage grape quantity and quality. To protect against insects and maintain their pristine appearance, Shine Muscat grapes are grown in paper bags. Hand-selected at harvest, each bunch boasts uniform size and color.
When Are Shine Muscat Grapes In Season?
If you want to try Shine Muscat grapes when you visit Japan, we recommend coming during the late summer or early autumn months. In fact, Shine Muscat grapes are typically in season during this time. Their harvest season varies by region, but you can generally find these grapes available from late August through September and even into early October.
History Of Shine Muscat Grapes
Shine Muscat, introduced as a new grape variety in 2006, is a result of meticulous breeding by the Grape and Persimmon Research Center of the Fruit Tree Research Institute in Japan. It carries the genes of "Muscat of Alexandria" and "Hakunan," making it a luscious, large-grained diploid grape.
These grapes are celebrated for their desirable characteristics, including a high sugar content of around 20 degrees and low acidity. Their thin skin, seedless nature, and delightful sweetness have earned them a spot in the hearts of grape connoisseurs worldwide.
Why Are Shine Muscat Grapes So Expensive?
While the qualities of Shine Muscat grapes are exceptional nonetheless, their premium status often comes with a (hefty) price tag. These grapes can cost anywhere from $25 to $40 per bunch in supermarkets, and their prices can soar to $100 per kilogram or more at department store counters and specialized fruit shops. Their exclusivity adds to their allure.
If you’re lucky, you may be able to find Shine Muscat grapes discounted at Japanese supermarkets for under 1000 yen, but this is a rare occurrence as Shine Muscat grapes are quite popular. If you want to try Shine Muscat grapes when you come to Japan, it may be worth looking for a fruit daifuku shop that sells Shine Muscat daifuku.
Where Can You Find Shine Muscat Grapes?
Finding Shine Muscat grapes outside Japan can be a challenge due to import regulations and limited availability. However, it's not impossible. Here are some places where you may be able to find Shine Muscat grapes:
- Asian Markets: Some specialty Asian markets or Japanese grocery stores in other countries may import a limited quantity of Shine Muscat grapes during their season.
- Online Retailers: There are online retailers that specialize in delivering exotic and premium fruits globally. They might offer Shine Muscat grapes, but be prepared for higher prices and potential shipping restrictions.
- Specialty Import Stores: In select countries, you may find specialty stores that import high-end Japanese fruits, including Shine Muscat grapes.
- Local Farmers' Markets: Some regions with an interest in unique fruit varieties may feature Shine Muscat grapes at local farmers' markets.
What Do Shine Muscat Grapes Taste Like?
So, what do Shine Muscat grapes taste like? These grapes present a delightful balance of a Muscat aroma, large oval grains with firm flesh, and a crisp texture. Their sugar content typically reaches up to 20 degrees, making them exceptionally sweet. Some Shine Muscat grapes can even reach a sugar content of 25 degrees, showcasing their extraordinary sweetness. You can enjoy these grapes with their skin intact, adding a layer of crunch to the sensory experience. For those who savor sweetness over subtlety, opt for the grapes with a yellower hue, as they tend to be sweeter.
How To Pick Shine Muscat Grapes?
Select the freshest Shine Muscat grapes by looking for bunches with green stems, firm skin, and plump, unblemished grapes. Green grapes may develop a slightly yellowish skin when fully ripe, making them a great choice for those who relish a sweeter taste. The grapes' thin skin is easy to bite into, offering a pleasing textural contrast to the juicy, succulent flesh beneath.
How To Eat Shine Muscat Grapes?
Unlike other Japanese grapes, Shine Muscat is a grape variety that can be enjoyed with its skin, making it ideal for hassle-free snacking. The crispy skin, along with the juicy interior, provides a delightful balance of textures. For an exquisite and unforgettable grape experience, Shine Muscat is a remarkable choice that will delight your taste buds and leave you yearning for more.
Shine Muscat Grape Treats
If you can’t make it to Japan during Shine Muscat season or can’t find them in your area, we’ll introduce some tasty and unique Shine Muscat treats that you can find at Japanese Taste in this section.
This is a delightful Shine Muscat Daifuku snack made up of a fusion of mochi, white anko, and cream with the exquisite flavor of Japan's premium Shine Muscat grapes. Enjoy its unique, two-layered filling with a hint of fruity sweetness. Refrigerate for an even more delightful experience. This is definitely a must-try treat!
Shinshu Shine Muscat Cream Filled Daifuku Mochi 9 Pieces
Here's another unique (and healthy) way to enjoy Shine Muscat grapes. Drinking vinegar might be a new concept for you, but it's a tasty and nutritious way to enjoy vinegar. This Japanese drinking vinegar is a blend of goodness with Shine Muscat grapes and traditional rice vinegar, sweetened with natural brown sugar to create a delicious and healthy drink. Give it a try and experience the delightful combination of flavors!
Marushige Shine Muscat Premium Drinking Vinegar 500ml
Have you tried Shine Muscat grapes before? How did you like them? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.