Shine Muscat Grapes are big, green, seedless grapes. They’re typically grown in Japan or South Korea, and are incredibly expensive, often selling for 10× the cost of regular green grapes. Here’s everything you need to know about these luxury fruits—what makes them so expensive, and whether they’re worth the cost.
I’ve tried the original shine muscat grapes in Japan as well as imported varieties in Canada that were shipped from Korea.
Cost and Packaging
Shine muscat grapes were originally developed in Japan, but are also very popular in South Korea and China. If you live in a Western country, you’re likely buying Korean-grown shine muscats. In 2020, I bought a small cluster of these grapes from T&T Supermarket. They cost me CAD$23 (USD$17) per pound. The regular green grapes were sold at the same store for $2 per pound.
I figured a good portion of the price was probably coming from shipping and packaging. They had to be shipped all the way from Korea to Canada, and were individually packed in small, neat bundles. Each one was wrapped with lots of foam netting and plastic, with another foam tray underneath. Some were even in fancy gift boxes.
Prices in Korea
In 2022, a coworker sent me some photos of shine muscats in a local store in Korea. They were selling for ₩9,990 (USD$8) per pound! So even in the countries where they’re grown, these grapes are still more expensive than average.
Prices in Japan
When I went to Japan in late 2023, I was even more shocked by the prices. Similar bunches of shine muscat grapes were selling for ¥7,000 to ¥10,400 (USD$49 to $73) per pound. Note this was at Shinjuku Takano which is a luxury fruit shop. It may be possible to find cheaper shine muscat grapes at Japanese grocery stores. However, this gives you an idea of what the top-quality grapes are selling for in Japan.
Japanese Shine Muscat
Fruit in Japan is notoriously expensive. After all, it’s the home of hand-massaged persimmons, $50 mangoes, square watermelons, and the Yubari King melon, which have been auctioned for millions of yen each. (Oh, and shine muscat isn’t even the only high-end grape variety in Japan. Kyoho grapes are also popular and pricey.)
It’s popular in Japanese culture to give presents of specialty fruits. Expensive fruit is something of a status symbol, which is why there’s such a big market for it.
Shine muscat grapes were developed in Japan in 1988 after a gruelling 33-year development process. The grapes were registered as an official variety in Japan only in 2006. But this timeline is quite normal for specialty fruit cultivars. And that’s part of why shine muscats are so spendy, and so fiercely protected in Japan. You can face a 10-year prison sentence for smuggling seeds out of the country!
Aside from luxury fruit, even regular fruit is still expensive in Japan. That’s because Japanese consumers have a strong preference for buying local over imported produce. Add to that the fact that the Japanese agricultural lobby is extremely powerful and exerts a lot of influence over the government to adopt protectionist policies. This drives up prices because the country has limited farmland.
I visited a few local grocery stores while in Japan, but didn’t find shine muscats. So instead I went to Shinjuku Takano which specializes in selling fruit for gifting. I couldn’t bring myself to spend $100 on grapes, so I bought the smallest box, which held a measly five grapes. This cost me ¥1,296 (USD$9).
Korean Shine Muscat
Shine muscat grapes exploded in popularity in South Korea in 2018. Just like in Japan, Korea has a strong fruit gifting culture. For that reason, you’ll frequently see shine muscat grapes packaged in pretty cardboard boxes, ready for gifting.
Now Korea has a thriving shine muscat industry. There has been occasional controversy over quality. As farms jumped on the shine muscat trend, it seems that sometimes quality inspections got sloppy. This led to customers getting subpar grapes. But as you’ll see below, I didn’t find much difference between Korean and Japanese shine muscat grapes in my personal taste tests. In fact, my favourite grapes ended up being from a Korean brand.
Below are some pictures of shine muscat grapes sold in a South Korean supermarket. My old manager moved to Korea in 2022 and she sent me photos of the grapes she saw at the supermarket. The prices in the screenshots are her estimates of the conversion into CAD$. The Korean won has since fallen in value, but I’m not sure if prices in Korea have also increased accordingly. It makes sense that they’re cheaper locally, but still more expensive than regular grapes.
What’s Special About These Grapes?
I enlisted Kevin and my parents to be my taste-testers. So far, we’ve tasted five different brands of shine muscat grapes. Although I have doubts on whether two of them are genuine (you’ll see what I mean below).
We all decided on our first bite that these are definitely better than conventional table grapes. They are huge compared to other varieties. They’re super firm and crisp. There are no stringy bits of fiber like you sometimes get in the grape’s center. True shine muscat grapes are seedless, which can be a good way to tell whether you’re getting the real thing or not.
The skin on these grapes is slightly sour and a bit astringent, typical for any grape. But the flesh is more delicious than any other I’ve tasted. The texture is a bit like jelly, and they are one of the sweetest grape varieties. And if you’re the type who dislikes eating grape skins, the skins on these grapes peel off fairly easily.
Because of how they’re packaged, the quality of imported shine muscat grapes is usually very good. None were crushed or soft.
And now, let’s go into the specifics of each brand we’ve tried…
I started with buying a bundle of EVERGOOD brand Korean shine muscat grapes from T&T in Waterloo, Ontario.
These grapes were very firm with a crisp bite. They tasted super fresh and sweet, with no hint of sourness or off notes. We ate them up quickly. About $50 worth of fruit was gone in less than an hour… I know, real fat cat behaviour.
But we all agreed that outside of special occasions, it wasn’t really worth paying more than 10 times the price of regular green seedless grapes.
I spotted a different brand of shine muscat grapes when visiting T&T in Calgary, Alberta. I bought a pack to try… and THESE TASTED COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! The EVERGOOD grapes paled in comparison.
The appearance and feel were the same between the two batches. The only difference was that some of the ELOASIS grapes were smaller. But oh man, the taste is noticeably better.
These grapes had a distinctly more fragrant flavour. Like, this could be an actual eau de parfum. But in a good way. To make sure I wasn’t tripping, I got everyone else to try them as well. They agreed the ELOASIS grapes tasted more floral and were superior to the EVERGOOD grapes. My mom commented that they had a really unique flavour.
In short, the EVERGOOD grapes were delicious, juicy, very fresh grapey-tasting grapes. But these ones that we just bought were on a whole other level. They don’t taste like any other grape I’ve had before.
Additionally, in November 2021 I saw these grapes on sale and this marks the lowest price I have ever seen them sold in Canada: 500g of ELOASIS grapes for $22.88. That works out to CAD$20.77 (USD$15.50) per pound.
Confusingly, based on EVERGOOD’s Instagram account, it looks like the two brands (EVERGOOD and ELOASIS) are related. So I’m not sure why one brand of grapes tasted so different from the other.
January 2022 Update: In addition to the humble styrofoam-wrapped version, ELOASIS has introduced a new gift box format. Why pay $20 for grapes like a pleb when you can pay $66.88 to get them in a fancy cardboard box??
As you can tell, I haven’t shelled out for these grapes yet. Since they are the same brand, I expect they taste the same as the grapes I reviewed earlier. But they would make a neat gift for the fruit lover in your life. Have you have tried them? Do drop a comment if these taste three times as good as the other shine muscat grapes!
I’m bringing you this update from yet another T&T in Vancouver, British Columbia. I can confirm that here they carry the ELOASIS brand of grapes and they tasted just as good as the ones I bought in Calgary.
But the Vancouver T&T also carried a Brazilian brand of muscat grapes. Although the sign in the store advertised these as “shine muscat grapes,” they are called pilarmoscato on the packaging which I think is really a different variety of muscat.
These were really good too, although they’re a little smaller, and not quite as firm. Even though the label warned that these grapes may have seeds, we didn’t encounter any seeds in the entire package. Flavourwise, I couldn’t really tell a difference between these and the EVERGOOD Korean shine muscat grapes.
After doing some research, it looks like pilarmoscato grapes are a completely different grape variety. They were developed by farmers in the Brazilian city of Pilar do Sul. Although they’re a gourmet grape in their own right, and very delicious, they’re not the same as shine muscat grapes. So be warned to look out for misleading labelling when shopping for these grapes in your grocery store.
Costco Muscat Treasure
Yes, Costco sells shine muscat grapes now. And they’re from Peru. It’s a wild world out here!
Once again, I’m suspicious whether these are real shine muscat grapes. Or is it another case of mislabelling?
The quality was not comparable to the other shine muscat grapes we tried. Several of the grapes looked wrinkled, like they were starting to dry out. Some of them even started to show brown spots. The telltale sign that they were not true shine muscat grapes, was the fact that several grapes contained seeds. Real shine muscat grapes, as grown in Japan, do not contain seeds.
Again, just like with the pilarmoscato grapes, you can see that the packaging itself does not mention shine muscat. The brand is Muscat Treasure and they’re simply called “green seedless grapes.” (Even though a few of them definitely contained seeds.) Disappointingly, it seems like Costco is selling these grapes as something they’re not.
I’m curious—is this a nationwide issue or was it only a labelling problem at my local Costco? Comment below if you’ve seen something similar at your Costco.
Shinjuku Takano is a renowned specialty fruit seller in Tokyo. I stopped by during my Japan trip to browse their shine muscat selection. As I mentioned above, the prices made my wallet cry, so I bought a tiny box of just 5 grapes.
The next day, we travelled to Yamanashi prefecture, which is where shine muscat grapes were first developed and grown. It was only appropriate that we tried these grapes in their birthplace.
The result was a bit anticlimactic. I was expecting these grapes to be the shining paragon of shine muscat perfection, to open my eyes to a whole new world of expensive fruit tasting. But they tasted pretty much the same as the EVERGOOD Korean shine muscat grapes. The only difference was that the skin was a little thinner and less sour. That made it better. I was glad I’d saved my money and only bought five.
I have to say, every single one of the five grapes was plump, juicy, firm, and unblemished. They would definitely make a great gift.
Now that I’ve tried shine muscat grapes in three different provinces and two different countries, here is the unofficial Earth to Veg Shine Muscat Grape Ranking:
- ELOASIS Korean grapes
- Takano Japanese grapes
- EVERGOOD Korean grapes
Honourable mention: APPC Pilarmoscato Brazilian grapes were delicious, but I had disqualify them for not being a true shine muscat grape. I also disqualified the Costco grapes but they would be at the bottom of this list anyway.
Have you tried another brand that you want to recommend? Do you disagree with my rankings? Please let me know in the comments.
When Are They in Season?
Shine muscat grapes come into season around late August to early September. Here is a pamphlet I grabbed in Japan. The translation reads “September: Shine muscat grapes from Oita, Kagawa, or Okayama prefecture. This grape has the shine muscat aroma and is seedless, it can be eaten with the skin on.”
Conclusion: Are They Worth the Cost?
All in all, these are some of the best grapes I’ve tried. But are they worth paying a premium of over $20/lb? No, not really. They’re just very sweet, very fresh grapes. Also, even though Kevin agrees these grapes are high quality, he personally prefers the taste of Kyoho grapes, which can often be found for cheaper.
These grapes use a lot of foam and plastic packaging, and have to be transported from across the world. That’s a lot of waste for a small bunch of grapes.
Shine muscat grapes are worth buying at least once to try, especially if you can find the ELOASIS brand. I still won’t be purchasing them often, what with the price and the environmental impacts. But if you have a guest you want to impress, or buying gifts for someone who loves fruit, or you want to know just how good a grape can taste, give these a go.
What Should We Try Next?
If you enjoy seeing someone spend too much money on fruit, you might be interested in my Pink Pineapple Review. Any other fruits or food in general you want me to review? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to find it in the stores here.