Scuppernong Woo Hoo!

Duplin Scuppernong

There are obscure grape varieties, there are strange grape varieties and then there is Scuppernong. Everyone should try it at least once, especially someone like me: a self-styled wine adventurer and president of the Wine Century Club.

Thanks to my friend Eric Crane, a fellow Wine Centurion from Atlanta, I was able to give it a go in the comfort of my London home. Watch out, Matt Skinner, we have some extreme wine drinking to do!

But first a little background. Scuppernong is the most famous type of Muscadine grape that's indigenous to the Southeastern United States and still grown in great quantities there. It’s named after Scuppernong, NC – an Algonquin word -- where the grape was first domesticated in the 17th Century. Muscadines (vitis rotundifolia) are much different than from grapes used to make most wines like Merlot and Chardonnay (vitis vinifera) or Condord (vitus lambrusca).

They have adapted (or were intelligently designed) to thrive in a hot, humid climate which would cause vinifera or lambrusca grape varieties to rot. SomScuppernonge scientists suggest that Muscadines should be a completely different genus as they have 40 chromosomes as opposed to the 38 chromosomes of other vitus grape varieties. They also have very thick skins that some people consider too tough to eat (but look nice in a bowl).

Scuppernong was also a major part in the beginnings of the mighty Constellation Brands. Long before they became huge, two North Carolina Scuppernong vineyards were acquired in 1948 to meet the rapidly growing demand for bulk wines in the US. Amazingly enough, it has endured and has developed somewhat of a following. Former president Jimmy Carter even makes wine from Scuppernong.

Currently the largest producer of varietal Scuppernong wines is Duplin Winery in Rose Hill, NC. From their website it looks like they have a good sense of humor, which may be necessary to enjoy these wines. Either that or being completely sloshed.

Duplin Scuppernong (white) Non Vintage 12% vol

Sight Very pale straw

Nose Wow, room filling intensity in a not pleasant way. There is also a glass of Leitz Riesling present that may be suffocating. Solvent-like grape candy and musky/floral perfume. It also smells very sweet. Deborah rushes into the kitchen and opens a window.

Palate Cloyingly sweet with much of the same grape candy and musky/floral flavors. Ouch. Finish is painfully long.

Rating: No Stars

Duplin Scuppernong Blush Non Vintage 12% vol  

Sight Pale salmon/bronze (the skins are typically bronze-colored when ripe)

Nose  More intensely solvent/varnish with less grapy muskiness like than its white sibling. Some floral and peach notes and fairly sweet.

Palate Amazingly the acid/sugars are in balance here, however, I’m now concerned about my tougue dissolving. It doesn’t. Uncouthly peachy but drinkable in a rudimentary kind of way.

Rating: One Star (The “OK” rating here is more of a safety rating: this wine meets minimum human standards)

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  • I am planting several muscadine and scuppernong vines this winter. Wine will follow!

    BurrRabbit on
  • Thanks for the great tips,i have bookmarked your site and will be sure to return.

    painless traffic review on
  • OK, OK . . . I’m back for a minute. It was the Duplin, I’m sure, that was the problem. Since my last post I’ve been through some changes (stroke, but recovered) and my taster is pretty well broke, but now that I know there is such a thing as homemade I’m willing to try again. Also, my GF now has one daughter in SC and two in NC so I may have a chance to explore next year.

    Herb Breese on
  • In a follow up to my previous post, we ended up with 40 gallons of scuppernong and muscadine wine in 2009 and as of June 2010, we have very little left, lol. The blackberry scuppernong was the best of all and I plan on making more of that this year. BTW, if the guy at the brewing shop tells you that champagne yeast is the same as montrachet, don’t believe him. You end up with Sparklenong – a slightly fizzy wine that will absolutely kick your tail. Peach scuppernong wine is next…

    Chris on
  • At the north end of the Wright Memorial Bridge as you leave the Outer Banks heading toward Virginia there is a small local winery called NATIVE VINE. They produce a scuppernong wine called Kitty Hawk White. It’s semi-dry; lighter in taste than both their own sweeter version and Duplin’s. Still has that distinct scuppernong flavor if you are a fan.

    Leslie Hines on

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