Frost grape is a vigorous vine climbing high by tendrils to 60 feet in length.
Leaves are alternate, simple, 4–6 inches long, 3–6 inches wide, heart-shaped to egg-shaped or round, base with a broad to narrow U-shaped sinus (cleft between two lobes) where the leaf stalk meets the blade; margins with large, prominent teeth, irregular; if lobed, the 2 side lobes short, shoulderlike; the leaves of flowering or fruiting branches not 3-lobed; upper surface dark green, smooth; lower surface paler, with short, straight hairs on the veins and small tufts in the vein axils.
Stems smooth, grayish green becoming reddish brown, finely ridged; tendrils up to 8 inches long, appearing opposite the leaves. Bark grayish brown, furrowed, shredding very little.
Flowering is in mid-May–June. Flowers are green, minute; male and female flowers in separate clusters on same plant; petals 5, dropping early. Clusters 3–5 inches long.
Fruit matures in September–October. Fruit are black, glossy, globe-shaped berries covered with a white waxy coating when ripe, about ¼ inch thick, thin-skinned, pulp juicy, turning sweet after frost, in drooping clusters up to 6 inches long. Seeds 2–4 per fruit.