also grape-shot, 1747, from grape + shot (n.). So called for its appearance. Originally simply grape (1680s), a collective singular. The whiff of grapeshot was popularized in English from 1837, from Carlyle's history of the French Revolution (in which book it was a chapter title). It seems to be his.
The Nobles of France, valorous, chivalrous as of old, will rally round us with one heart;—and as for this which you call Third Estate, and which we call canaille of unwashed Sansculottes, of Patelins, Scribblers, factious Spouters,—brave Broglie, "with a whiff of grapeshot (salve de canons)," if need be, will give quick account of it. [Carlyle, "French Revolution"]
also grape-vine, 1736, from grape + vine. Meaning "a rumor; a secret or unconventional method of spreading information" (1863) is from the use of grapevine telegraph as "secret source of information and rumor" in the American Civil War; in reference to Southerners under northern occupation but also in reference to black communities and runaway slaves.
The false reports touching rebel movements, which incessantly circulated in Nashville, brings us to the consideration of the "grapevine telegraph"—a peculiar institution of rebel generation, devised for the duplex purpose of "firing the Southern heart," and to annoy the "Yankees." It is worthy of attention, as one of the signs of the times, expressing the spirit of lying which war engenders. But it is no more than just to say that there is often so little difference between the "grapevine" and the associated press telegraph, that they might as well be identical. ["Rosecrans' Campaign with the Fourteenth Corps," Cincinnati, 1863]
type of American grape, 1857, the name taken from the river in the Carolinas, in which region the grape was found. The river is named for the Katahba Indian group and language (Siouan), from their word katapu "fork of a stream," itself a Muskogean loan-word meaning "separate."
"strong, sweet wine made from muscat grapes," 1530s, variant of muskadell (c. 1400), from Medieval Latin muscatellum, diminutive of muscat "(grape) with the fragrance of musk" (see muscat).