Monday, September 4, 2017

Muscat Madness!

One of the more-confusing grapes must be the Muscat varieties. Here is some light shed on it:

1. There are about 200 varieties of Muscat grapes. All are varieties within the species Vitis vinifera.

2. They are white, yellow, pink, blue, and black.

3. It might be the oldest domesticated grape varieties. Nations claiming them include Saudi Arabia, Iran (Persia), and Egypt.

4. Muscats almost always have a strong flowery, musky aroma. (I love it.) This is caused by the presence of more than forty "monoterpenes," including  citronellolgeraniollinalool and nerol. (You will recognize some of those as in such products as citronella candles, or geraniums. Linalool is a terpene found in various strains of marijuana. Nerol is new to me.)

5. Many languages are possible sources of the Muscat name: Persian (muchk), Greek (moskos), Latin (muscus), French (musc), and Italian (mosca, which refers to fruit flies, which are attracted to the grapes' sugar and musky aroma).

6. Here are some of the confusing parts:
a. Vitis rotundifolia (a grape native to the SE United States) is called "muscadines," though they have nothing to do with Muscat grapes.
b. The German winegrape "Morio Muskat" is not in the Muscat grape family.
c. The Bordeaux winegrape "Muscadelle" has strong aromatics and is often confused with Muscat grapes.

7. Muscats have been bred into modern grape varieties, through crosses with native American and Asian grapes. One of the many examples is Muscat of Norway, which some think is really Donskoi, a Russian-bred grape that can ripen in cold climates and thus somehow got named for Norway.

Here is the Wiki article on Muscat grapes.

Pictured is Muscat of Alexandria. (photo credit to Wikipedia)

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