Grapes: The Fruit of Connection

No other fruit is more intertwined with culture and history than grapes. Humans have been enjoying grapes for pretty much as long as we’ve walked on the planet — or at least for the past 22,000 years. An integral part of history, art, mythology, and culture, grapes have a strong association with connectivity, inviting a sense of coming-togetherness. Forget breaking bread — splitting a bunch of grapes among friends is the sweetest way to connect and gather together.

Just in time for the return of Holiday® grapes season later this month, we’re sharing a round up of tips to make hosting and entertaining easier and more authentic – starring our favorite pops of perfection along the way.

Start small and simple. Feeling a little rusty when it comes to hosting? Gatherings don’t have to be fancy or crowded to be meaningful. Grab a friend or two and head to your backyard or a favorite park. Bring along a snack and a drink — and that’s it. We like Holiday grapes when they’re in season, late August through early December, because they’re easy to share. You have to eat these extra-large, super-sweet grapes one at a time and they’re finger food, so they’re a snack you can savor slowly as you catch up and reconnect.

Celebrate a favorite. Long-time fans of Columbine® Vineyards grapes know our array of big, juicy varieties – like Holiday grapes – are worth the wait each year.  Seasonal eating teaches us the rewards of delayed gratification, a practice we’ve all perfected this past year. Serving up familiar and seasonal favorites reminds you and your guests that no matter what else has changed, the important things never will.

Choose quality over quantity. With rare exception, your guests are not expecting a nine-course tasting menu or the perfect sourdough loaf. They’re expecting to spend time with those they’ve missed and share some tasty food and drinks. Dinner parties can be as simple as roast chicken with vegetables, a green salad like this Holiday Grapes Kale and Arugula Salad, a loaf of crusty bread (that you didn’t bake!), with plump, juicy grapes and maybe a bar of good chocolate for dessert.

Call the trusted deli. Pick up your favorite prepared foods if cooking for a crowd is too much to take on. Create a grazing table with a theme, where guests can mingle while making plates of their favorite small bites. Start with stuffed grape leaves, olives, pickles and roasted peppers from the deli, then add crudites and dips, charcuterie and cheese, plus grapes for a sweet finish.

Welcome contributions. Entertaining shouldn’t break the bank. Let your guests help by bringing something, like grapes, a wedge of cheese, a box of crackers, etc. Don’t be bashful when it comes to accepting help — it’s a “love language,” and we haven’t had as many chances to share recently!

Have a “signature” dish. Whether you’re hosting your sweetheart or your partner’s parents, there’s no rule that says you have to serve something new or complicated. When in doubt, go with what you know. That truly can be as simple as this Winter Quinoa and Holiday Grape Salad, or that Tik Tok feta pasta dish.

Have fun with it! If it’s been over a year since you’ve gathered with a friend group, what better way to jump back in than with a fun ice breaker! Embrace it with a fun ice breaker! Set out name tags and encourage guests to write something silly, like their favorite weird food. Speaking of having fun, serve these Chocolate-Dipped Holiday Grapes adorned with sugar “glitter” or bright sprinkles for an extra-festive treat.

We hope that these simple tips and creative ways to highlight our favorite fruit of the season encourage you to bring people together, whether it’s hosting an intimate gathering or a more elaborate affair. Holiday grapes return to stores in late August, so consider that your invitation to gather up your friends, in whatever way is authentic to you.