I try to stick to buying local produce but once in a while I splurge on something more exotic. I recently saw an Instagram post about shine muscat grapes, so yesterday at T&T Waterloo I went on the lookout. These grapes are green, seedless, typically imported from South Korea, and expensive as all heck.
Muscat is a huge umbrella family of grape varieties, with shine muscat being just one of many. Previously, I kind of associated muscat grapes with wine, but it turns out many varieties are good for eating as well.
Cost and Packaging
Shine muscat grapes were originally developed in Japan, but the brands I found at the supermarket here in Waterloo are all Korean. The one I bought was $50.68/kg—that’s $23/lb—compared to regular green grapes that I can pick up for $2/lb. I swear a good portion of the price comes from the shipping and packing costs alone. These grapes were packed in small, neat bunches, wrapped with mesh and plastic, with a foam tray underneath. The quality is definitely very good. None of the grapes were crushed or soft.
(UPDATE: The lowest price I have seen for these grapes in Canada is now $22.88 for a 500g box, or around $20.77/lb. In South Korea, they are available for $17 for roughly the same amount. See UPDATES section below for details.)
The two of us finished the 1 1⁄2 lbs in one sitting while watching TV. Yep, we ate about $50 worth of fruit in under an hour… I know, we’re a couple of real fat cats.
What’s Special About These Grapes?
Well, Kevin and I both decided on our first bite that these are definitely better than conventional table grapes. They are huge compared to other varieties and super firm, which is just how I like it. There are no stringy bits of fiber like you sometimes get in the grape’s center.
The skin of these grapes is pretty typically, sour and a bit astringent, but the flesh is more delicious than any other I’ve tasted. The texture is a bit like jelly, and all the ones I tasted were super fresh and sweet, no hint of sourness or off notes. Also, if you’re the type who really dislikes eating grape skins, the skins on these grapes peel off super easy.
Since publishing the original post, there have been a few new entrants to the shine muscat market in Canada. I’ll be adding all my subsequent updates to this section.
December 2020 Update
Fellas, I have some interesting findings to report. I’m staying in Calgary for the holidays, so last week I visited a T&T here and saw that the Korean shine muscat grapes were not only still available but on sale. A bit more expensive than the ones I’d bought previously in Waterloo ($25/lb instead of $23/lb). I bought a pack to try… and THESE TASTED COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! The ones we had purchased earlier from the Waterloo T&T paled in comparison.
The appearance and feel were the same between the two batches, with the only difference being that some of the Calgary grapes were smaller. But oh man, the taste is noticeably better.
The bunch of grapes purchased from Calgary had a distinctly more fragrant flavour. Like, think actual perfume scent, but in a good way. To make sure I wasn’t tripping, I got my boyfriend to try them as well and he agreed they tasted more floral and were superior to the pack we got in Waterloo. My mom, who obviously hadn’t tasted the ones from Waterloo, commented immediately that these had a really unique flavour.
In short, the first batch 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. The question is, how to buy the right kind of shine muscat grapes every time?
Although the packaging was the same between the two locations, the brand labels were different. One was labelled “ELOASIS” and the other was “EVERGOOD.” I tried to research the two different brands but didn’t get very far. In fact, from EVERGOOD’s Instagram account it looks like the two brands are actually related. And I haven’t bought these grapes enough times to definitively say whether the ELOASIS grapes are consistently better or if this batch was a fluke. So sorry, I don’t have any tips for finding the best grapes, other than telling you that in my personal experience, the ELOASIS brand was tastier.
January 2021 Update
Wow, this post just gets longer and longer. Who knew shine muscat grapes were so interesting?!
I am bringing you this update from Vancouver, British Columbia. And yes, of course, I had to visit a local T&T. I can confirm that here in BC, 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 shine 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 a specific breed/variety name. These were really good too. I couldn’t really tell a difference between these and the ELOASIS Korean shine muscat grapes. They are a little smaller, and not quite as firm, but have a great flavour.
November 2021 Update
Lowest price I’ve yet seen for shine muscat grapes. This 500g box of ELOASIS brand grapes was on sale at the Calgary T&T for $22.88. That works out to $20.77 per pound.
January 2022 Update
In addition to the humble styrofoam-wrapped version, ELOASIS has introduced a new gift box format. When paying $20something for grapes like a pleb when you can pay $66.88 to get them in a fancy cardboard box??
(Yet another layer of packaging!!! I’m losing count of the layers… are we buying grapes or onions here?)
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 in December 2020. 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!
October 2022 Update
Actual shine muscat grapes in South Korea! One of the managers from my old office has moved to Korea and she took a picture of the shine muscat grapes she saw at the supermarket. She estimates they’re $17 CAD for a bunch that looks around the same size as the ones I see here in Canada. It makes sense that they’re cheaper locally, but still quite a bit more expensive than regular grapes!
My Favourite Brand of Shine Muscats
Now that I’ve bought three different brands of shine muscat grapes in three different provinces, I will rank the grapes I’ve tried so far from best to worst:
- ELOASIS Korean grapes—found in Calgary and Vancouver
- APPC Brazilian grapes—found in Vancouver
- EVERGOOD Korean grapes—found in Waterloo
Have you tried another brand that you want to recommend? Do you disagree with my rankings? Please post a comment and I will update accordingly.
Where To Buy in Canada
All in all, these are definitely the best grapes we’ve tried. But are they worth paying a premium of over $20/lb? No, not really. Also, 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.
(DECEMBER 2020 UPDATE: I amend my statement. These are worth buying at least once 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 want to know just how fucking good a grape can taste, give these a go.)
That said, if you want to give these a try, visit your local T&T Supermarket or other large Asian grocery store. I started seeing them recently (September to January) but I’m not sure if they’re around all year. Go get them soon!
What Should We Try Next?
If you enjoy seeing someone spend too much money on fruit, you might be interested in my pink pineapple taste test. 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.
15 thoughts on “Shine Muscat Grapes — Most Expensive Grapes Ever?”
Nice see you. I have Shine Muscat USA.I live Clayton.Wa.
I have properietary of Shine muscat from Foudation Plant Service.
Do you Want some information, call 213-925-1444.
Thank you very much.
I’m interested to have shine muscat on my mini garden. Any chance you can send me cutting of this variety here in the philippines? Thank you in advance.
Are you still selling? I am interested in the grapes and cuttings both…. I am near Seattle thank you!!!!!
Just tried these – they were in the discount section of my neighbourhood Chinese supermarket, so the price was $2.99 for a bunch (downside: there was mold on a lot of them, hence the $2.99 price versus the $15/bunch regular price) – for $2.99, figured I’d take a punt – will definitely buy a bunch of the non-spoiled/non-discount ones as a treat next time. My daughter loved them, and even my wife (who doesn’t go nuts for eclectic fruits like I do) declared they were worth buying again.
Worth checking out Campbell grapes from Galleria as well! They are somewhat related to the Kyoho grapes, with thick, tart, purple skin (I like to eat the skins too, but not everyone does) and seeds, but incredibly fragrant grape flavour I describe as grape bubblegum: prior to eating those, I thought grape bubblegum flavour was totally artificial, but now I see where they got that flavour profile from.
$2.99 is an insane deal! Even $15 is cheaper than the prices I’ve seen, so you guys lucked out with your supermarket.
Those Campbell grapes sound delicious; I’m being reminded of the cotton candy grapes which are another one of my favourite grape varieties. But I gotta say, two of my pet peeves when it comes to grapes are seeds and tart skins lol.
Hi, I definitely say that since I tasted a shine muscat grape, I never went back coz they are really good.
It’s like eating durian the Musang King level and won’t even like the taste of other durian once tasted a Musang King.
It’s not the price but the taste is so good that i would just wait and eat 1 sitting of it then purchasing tons of normal grapes and durian.
Back to the Shine Muscat, i’ve tastes a few from Japan (4 suppliers), Korea (3 supplier), China (2 supplier) & Brazil (same as yours APPC).
Price wise, the China is the cheapest, about half price of the Korean. Korean & Brazil are similar price range and Japan is the most hurting the pocket as it’s at least double the Korean price but can also go 2 to 4 times more than the Korean brand.
Ok, the most important, the taste wise. If you say APPC was really good, i do recommend you to try find that is from Japan. I would also rate the APPC after the Korean shine muscat, but the Shine muscat from Japan (eg. Not sure brand but on the box beside Japanese character which i cant read states ‘okayama kasaoka’, another is from a supplier with label J-Fresh… these 2 or the double & near tripple price) are so have a very unique good taste which when we pop one in our mouth to munch it – it has a very fresh floral, sweet, friuty, crispy flavour and usually just eating 5~6 is already enough for I session to stop the craving. Even the skin of the shine muscat from Japan doesnt even taste sour (unlike from China) & the skin is so thin compared with the rest. I wanted to post the picture of the container of the ones coming from Japan but dont see any option… But if you have a chance, do try to taste – Now eating grapes seems to be a yearly activity to save up and get some real shine muscat later on.
I dont recomment the supplier with higher price from Japan as the taste is already achievable with the 3~3x range.
Now you’ve made me jealous. I hope I can find a Japanese variety around here soon! (Sorry I haven’t figured out how to add images to the comments, but if you want you can upload the picture of the Japanese grapes to https://imgur.com/ and paste the link to the image.)
I’m back to buying regular cheaper grapes now, and I only get the shine muscats as an occasional indulgence. But I’ve definitely found myself comparing every grape I try to the shine muscat haha. So far none of them have come close.
Passion fruit should be next
Oh that’s a good one, I actually bought some passionfruit back in the summer and I remember taking some pictures. Just gotta dig them up now, that might take some time lol
Passion fruit review has finally been posted 🙂 you can check it out here: https://earthtoveg.com/passion-fruit/
Tried it for the first time last week. Best grapes I’ve ever had. 10/10 will buy again.
Yeah no kidding they are 100% the best!
Thanks for your review Jellie. I just bought some APPC brand from Galleria supermarket in North York. Did not know how much it was until I got home! Expensive yes, but they are good. I love that it’s big, shiny and juicy. Worth noting they are well packaged and very clean. Not too flavourful but still pretty nice. I will definitely try other brands now that I know this is a “thing”!
Can you do a review on pink pineapples? I was tempted to buy one after reading an article on blogTo but couldn’t justify the price.
Yeees, I love how huge these grapes are. Feels more satisfying biting into them for sure.
This is the first time I’ve heard of the pink pineapple 😮 Not sure if it’s available here in Calgary yet but if I see it I’m definitely going to pick one up to review. I’m curious to see if the price is worth it!
Review for pink pineapples has been posted: https://earthtoveg.com/pink-pineapple/