Shine muscat grape are a special cultivar of grapes that was developed in Japan in 1988, but is still a rather exclusive type of grape that most people have never tasted.

And the only reason why I write about it here today is because I’ve just tasted it for the first time—and it’s a remarkably different type of grape. At first bite, immediately, I was surprised by the taste, as I’ve never eaten a grape like this.

The taste is more complex than more common types of grapes, with a rich sweetness and a firm, juicy flesh, and is often described as having notes of fully ripened mango. The skin is very thin and has no astringency, making it even more enjoyable to consume than regular grapes, and the grapes are bigger than usual grapes, and being seedless makes it even easier to enjoy them. It also has very low levels of acidity.

There’s a great writeup on a Shine Muscat grape grower in Japan where they share a bit about the background of the cultivar, and all the effort that goes into growing the best quality.

Another interesting read is Visiting the Birthplace of the Prized Japanese Fruit, the Shine Muscat. Most notably, a tip on how to best enjoy the grapes:

“When handling the grapes, we don’t recommend chilling them and letting them return to room temperature repeatedly. I think they taste best if you chill them an hour or so before serving.”

There’s also a report on Japanese Muscat grapes, which describes the history of the Shine Muscat grape as follows:

Japan’s most famous muscat grape is the Shine Muscat, developed in 1997 at the National Institute of Fruit Tree Science’s vineyard in Akitsu, Japan. The variety was selected for trials in 1999 and was planted at 30 locations across Japan. In 2003, Shine Muscat grapes were released to commercial growers, and the late summer cultivar was eventually registered as a protected variety in 2006.

Shine Muscat grapes are a luxury Japanese grape variety cultivated, packaged, and marketed as a premium fruit. The variety is highly prized for its large grape size, crisp, juicy flesh, and high sugar content, which contributes to a sweet, pleasing taste. In Japanese markets, Shine Muscat grapes are carefully packaged in boxes or decorative bags with foam and are often sold as a high-end gift for special events with family, friends, and coworkers. The grape variety is especially popular during New Year celebrations and is a status symbol when gifting to acquaintances.

Following the variety’s immense success throughout Japan, Shine Muscat grapes have also been smuggled out of the country and planted in Korea and China. In China, the variety is sold under brand names such as Sunshine Rose, Sunlight Rose, and Incense Jade. Japan currently produces around 1,200 hectares of Shine Muscat grapes, while China produces over 53,000 hectares.

It’s a bit wild to imagine that Shine Muscat Grape has been smuggled out of Japan into China and they now grow more than 40 times as many hectares of the high-prized fruit. One article estimates that Japan loses around $70 million a year because of the smuggled grapes.

There are even Shine Muscat picking tours available in Japan.

Muscat is actually a common family of grapes commonly used for wines, raisins, and table grapes, and comes in many different colors, from white to yellow to pink and almost black. The Shine Muscat






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