In Spain — and in many parts of South Florida — the new year is celebrated by eating 12 grapes at midnight. The grape tradition may have begun when, after an abundant grape harvest, the king of Spain gave grapes to all his subjects. Or maybe it’s a story created after drinking champagne, another New Year’s Eve tradition.
Grapes, with their excellent antioxidant resveratrol, deserve attention all year long, and can be enjoyed in ways that don’t risk hangover. Welch’s sparkling grape juice cocktail ($2.79, 750 milliliters) makes your New Year’s Eve festive and fizzy. Available in white grape, red grape, blueberry grape and cranberry, it’s bubbly and bottled to look like champagne. The white grape juice is even champagne-colored, but as with the other flavors, it has a concentrated grapey sweetness you won’t confuse with Veuve Clicquot. An 8-ounce serving contains 160 calories. Find it in most supermarkets.
Grape seed oil offers a healthy dose of vitamins including vitamin E and minerals including zinc. It’s light-bodied and neutral-tasting, with a high smoke point, making it ideal for baking and sautes. It costs less than olive oil, too. A 500-milliliter bottle of Sadaf brand costs $4.19 and is available at Whole Foods. Like all oils, one tablespoon of grape seed oil contains 120 calories.
The marketing folks in Washington state decided grapes need a new spin and came up with Rainier Fruit’s Grapples ($5.99, 4-pack clamshell or $2.99 for a 4-pack sleeve). Pronounced grape-els, they’re apples soaked in Concord grape juice and artificial grape flavoring. They look like apples, have perfect appley crunch, and taste like. . . fake grapes. If you’re a child crazy about grape soda, this will seem brilliant. If you’re an adult, this feels somewhere between perplexing and wrong. Find Grapples in your Publix produce section.
We prefer an apple to be an apple, a grape to be a grape. Or for a grape to a be raisin. Stock up on raisins (once unsuccessfully marketed as dried grapes) now while they’re specially priced for holiday baking (Sun Maid raisins $2 for12 ounces, Sun Maid white raisins, $3). They’re pantry-friendly. Wishing you a great and grapey one.