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Wine Diner Inspiration Grapes and Meatballs – Polpettine con le Uve

Today’s recipe is inspired by a meal I had years ago in Italy’s wine country – Montalcino. However, it could just as easily appear on a menu in Provence, where grapes are grown locally, and meatballs (boulettes de viande) are popular.

The Italian dish, Polpettine con le Uve, not only tasted good — it was the beautiful presentation that captivated me. Small meatballs and grapes clustered on the plate to resemble a bunch of grapes. I recreated the dish (recipe below), and it has excellent flavour; the combination of veal with the grapes is unexpected, subtle and – in a word – incredible. Also, it’s stunning on the plate! Head to Cocoa & Lavender for the original article and beautiful photos.

We were lucky to have Susan and Towny of Provence WineZine in town to share the meal and wine they brought, which paired well with the dish! It is the 2018 Pinot Noir from John Malkovich’s winery Les Quelles de La Coste.

Wine Diner Grapes Meatballs polpettine con le uve

Polpettine con le Uve (Meatballs and Grapes)

David Scott Allen | Cocoa & Lavender
This Italian-inspired dish is a flavourful combination of beef and veal meatballs with grapes, makes the perfect dinner dish! 
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people


  • 2 lbs Green Grapes large, seedless
  • 1 lb Ground Veal or lean pork, beef, or a combination
  • 1/2 cup Breadcrumbs fresh
  • 2 tsp Thyme Leaves fresh
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus additional for grapes
  • 1/4 cup Dry White Wine
  • a few Fresh Grape Leaves for garnish (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Wash 52 of the grapes and toss them in olive oil. Place them on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for 15 minutes. Set aside — you may not use all 52, but you can choose the best-looking ones.
  • Purée the remaining grapes and strain the juice through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing hard on the solids to get as much juice as possible. Set juice aside and discard solids.
  • Mix the veal, breadcrumbs, thyme, salt, pepper, and egg in a medium bowl. Form 32 to 40 1-inch meatballs by rolling small bits of the mixture between the palms of your hands. (Although wetting your hands will make it easier, do not do this as it will add unwanted moisture to the meatballs.) Refrigerate them uncovered until ready to use.
  • Roll the meatballs in the flour. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large 14-inch skillet, and when hot, carefully place all the meatballs into the pan; do not crowd them. After 1 minute, begin shaking the pan to loosen the meatballs. Brown all sides – approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add roasted grapes to the skillet and stir for a minute. Add the reserved grape juice and wine and bring them to a boil. Reduce heat to a brisk simmer and, when thickened, arrange the meatballs and grapes on plates to form “bunches” of grapes. Drizzle with the sauce and garnish the top with grape leaves if using. (Other non-poisonous leaves can work: geranium leaves, flat-leaf parsley, or even paper leaves intended for cheese boards.) I recommend serving side dishes on a separate plate to keep the integrity of the presentation.
Keyword Beef, Grapes, Veal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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David Scott Allen

David Scott Allen

David Scott Allen is the author, photographer, and cook behind Cocoa & Lavender, a weekly food blog based in Tucson, Arizona. Passionate about travel, he especially enjoys eating traditional foods and learning local customs, whether in the United States or around the globe.

David's first trip to France took place when he was 14, and he returned as often as possible thereafter. However, it wasn't until his 50th birthday that he finally made it south to Provence. The beauty, history, charm, warmth, cuisine, and - of course - the rosé wines captured his heart. He shares his Provençal recipes here on Perfectly Provence, and his food and wine pairings monthly on the Provence WineZine.

David is a firm believer that sharing a meal with friends around the table is one of life's greatest pleasures. And if it happens to be in Provence, all the better!

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