Many cultures have traditional favorite foods to bring good fortune for the upcoming year. In Sweden and Norway, a whole almond is hidden in a dish of rice pudding, and whoever gets the nut will have a fortunate year. Greeks bake a round, sweet bread with a coin inside, the bread is cut at midnight, and the slices are distributed to the guests in order of age.
Italians serve honey-drenched balls of pasta dough fried and dusted with powdered sugar. In Germany, pancakes are considered so lucky that the batter is ladled into the skillet at midnight.
In Spain, eating 12 grapes, one at a time, at the stroke of midnight promises good luck. The Twelve Grapes of Luck is a tradition that dates back from at least 1895, but became established in 1909. In December of that year, some vine growers from a Spanish Mediterranean port city popularized this custom in order to sell large amounts of grapes from an excellent harvest.
The tradition consists of eating a grape with each bell strike at midnight of December 31. Each grape represents a month of the new year. According to the tradition, eating all twelve leads to a year of prosperity. In some areas, it is believed that the tradition wards away witches and general evil, although this “magic” is treated like an old heritage, and in modern days it’s viewed as a cultural tradition to welcome the new year.
Enjoy this Twelve-Grape Good Luck Dessert is a treat designed for New Year’s Eve.
Twelve-Grape Good Luck Dessert
12 grapes per serving
A generous scoop of sorbet—either lemon or white grape
A splash of spumante
Clean the grapes, and remove them from their stems. Set them aside until 15 minutes before midnight. Grapes can be prepared early in the day. Scoop the sorbet into each goblet, and return the goblet to the freezer until ready to serve.
Before midnight, remove the goblets with sorbet from the freezer, top with 12 grapes and splash with champagne or spumante. Champagne is a sparkling white wine from France, and Spumante is a sweeter sparkling white wine from Italy. Serve this treat with a dessert spoon.
Before you prepare this dessert, be certain you have enough room in your freezer for the number of glasses you plan to use to serve your guests. Stemless wine goblets are easy to stack in your freezer and can be prepared before your guests arrive.