As many of you may know I spend several hours in a California grape vineyard this March. It got me really craving some good grapes. Problem is that grapes in the late winter and early spring are really known for their great flavor. But their is one exception, one silver lining in a rather lackluster time of year for grapes. Thank God for Muscats (sometimes called Pink Muscatel Grapes). If you have never heard of them, they are a unique grape. They aren’t a red, green, or black grape they have a rosy color with a green background. Some are more green and some are more rosy, some would use the word pink. They are easy enough to pick out from among the other grapes. Not only is their color unique, their flavor just as unique. I would describe it was kind of floral. The flavor isn’t for everyone – it’s one of those you either love it or hate it, not a lot of people sitting on the fence. I think they are super refreshing, especially during a time when all the grapes are from Chile and are serious lacking in any real flavor. So how long do you have to enjoy these delicious grapes?
When are Muscat Grapes in Season?
You might see some volumes of them beginning in late February and starting to pick up in March. April is the month where you expect to find them in large quantities. Right at the end of the season in May I find them to be at their sweetest – grab them in bunches then. I remember one season when they arrived the same day as Sumo mandarins did at my local Whole Foods market, which might just have been the greatest winter day in produce history! In the late summer/early fall you might seem some coming out of California, but I haven’t found any that match up to the quality of the Chilean ones. If you do find them from California, it’s usually only very briefly. The variety may not be the same either, but any California grape I have had labeled muscat has been a letdown. This is the only time you will probably hear me say some fruit from Chile is better than California.
Where to Find Muscat Grapes
My main source has always been Whole Foods Market. They have been a big supporter of this variety and you should be able to find them in stores nationwide. The last seasons they have placed them on sale a couple times – which I really appreciate. Besides that you have to look at more specialized produce stores or grocery stores that carry specialty items. For example here in Ann Arbor, Michigan I have found them at the Produce Station and Hiller’s. I have never seen them at Trader Joe’s, Meijer, or Kroger stores. They are listed on Melissa’s Produce website, so contact them to help you find them. Here are a few stores/distributors you can check with:
Kings Supermarket, Fairway Markets, Baldor Specialty Foods, Agata & Valentina, Eataly, Dean & Deluca, Union Markets.