Are Muscadine Grapes the Next Big Superfood?

New research shows that the grape, which is used to make wine in the southeastern United States, can improve your skin and fight inflammation.

By Bob McGinn September 7, 2023

The purported health benefits—or detriments—of wine seem to change on a weekly basis. Whenever positive news about consuming wine is published, detractors are quick to respond, and eventually it is left up to consumers to make their own decisions.

I have long been a proponent of the Mediterranean diet—which includes a glass or two of wine, preferably red—and exercise as the basis for a healthy lifestyle. Now, a recent study is showing the benefits of a rarely seen wine: muscadine.

Muscadine is a naturally occurring American grape. It’s of the species vitis rotundifolia—unlike vitis vinifera (cabernet sauvignon) or the more common vitis labrusca (vidal)—and it is primarily grown in the southeastern United States. The recent studies have hailed it as a super fruit that can help improve one's skin, reduce inflammation, increase well-being in breast cancer patients and reduce the cell proliferation of prostate cancer.

The grape is found to be high in polyphenols like quercetin, ellagic acid and resveratrol, which are antioxidants, and it’s the only wine grape that produces ellagic acid. Dr. Lindsey Christman at the University of Florida recently published a study in which ellagic acid in muscadine grapes was used to improve skin health in women. The wine was dealcoholized for the study, but the regular wine may provide similar benefits. Another study reported on the effects of ellagic acid, including its anti-inflammatory properties, in reducing the growth of certain cancers and ameliorating obesity.

I found only one sample of muscadine at a local wine retailer—a bottle produced by Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards in Clermont, Florida. Muscadine is the staple of its offerings. The appearance is like any other young white wine, although there is a red variety, too. The taste is somewhat unusual, but not off-putting, or "foxy," as in vitis labrusca wines. The sweetness masks a slight medicinal flavor combined with peaches—certainly not objectionable. Since sweetness does not match many foods, it would be interesting to try a dry version.



In a phone conversation with the winemaker at Lakeridge, Jeanne Burgess, she informed me she has been involved with the winery (or its previous iterations) for more than 40 years. She likes working with the muscadine grape and feels its indigenous character makes it impervious to most vine diseases. Because she blends for a certain style, there is no vintage, but she recommends consuming Lakeridge wines within three to four years.

Because muscadine grapes produce less sugars than other varieties, Burgess adds sugar in a process called chaptalization. The resulting wines then have a sugar content between 2 percent and 4 percent. Over time, this has become the style that Lakeridge consumers prefer and it makes the wine more attractive. The winery is the largest in Florida and encourages visits.

Bob McGinn has spent his entire career in the wine industry—forming wine clubs, working in wine sales marketing and engaging in all facets of the winemaking process, including vine management, fermentation and yeast analysis. He has developed wine programs for companies such as Marriott, Sheraton and Smith & Wollensky, and consults with local restaurants. You can read more of McGinn’s work at

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