Merlot. Zinfandel. Cabernet Sauvignon. These are the grape varietals of the wines we know and love. But have you heard of Carlos, Scuppernong, Noble, Doreen, or Magnolia? No, they’re not a band – they’re muscadine grapes, and they are the healthiest grapes in the world.
According to an in-depth study, muscadine wines contain a surprising amount of healthy phenolic compounds. Um, what are phenolic compounds? They are naturally occurring chemicals found in the skin of these grapes that act as antioxidants in the body. Researchers found that they actually offset the free radicals released by the liver as it processes alcohol. What does that mean? It means the grape part of the wine fights the alcohol part of the wine, and your insides are happy while you’re busy getting tipsy. It’s a win-win.
The battle between antioxidants and free radicals isn’t unique to muscadines, but wines made from this sweet grape are more likely to win over the damaging effects of alcohol. In fact, red muscadine wine has 3 – 4 times more phenolic compounds than Cabernet. And some of these compounds, like ellagic acid, are even thought to be cancer-fighters too. Which means muscadine wine heals more than it hurts.
If you’re from the southeastern United States you may already be familiar with this grape. They’re happiest growing in the warm, sandy earth naturally available in states like Florida and North Carolina. Life can be tough in these growing conditions, so muscadine grapes are known for their thick skins that keep them alive and happy. And, under that thick skin is a big, juicy fruit just waiting to be made into wine. Muscadines tend to grow bigger than the vitis vinifera grapes that are used to make traditional California or European-style wines, which is why the wines they produce usually end up tasting more sweet.
Even though some wineries might talk of dry muscadine wines or offer blends, just understand that they’re speaking relatively. These babies are sweet (and they make the perfect addition to a summer sangria, just saying). Even blends with, say, Merlot grapes from California will be overwhelmed by the sugary taste of muscadine. So be prepared, but don’t be fooled by the sugary sweetness. This wine has some major benefits for your health – even more than red wine, the health benefits of which have been debated for thousands of years.
Which means, ladies and gentlemen, a muscadine wine a day keeps the doctor away.