Walnut, Blue Cheese & Cranberry Cookies

pair perfectly with Dessert wines!

Do you just want a treat to take along to that house party full of wine loving friends?  Combined with these easy to make savoury fruit, nut and cheese cookies, Ports and other dessert wines are great gourmet gifts. And, of course, it is getting very close to that gifting time…

Walnut, Blue Cheese

      & Cranberry Cookies

1 cup crumbled blue cheese

Half cup salted butter, room temp

Half tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1 cup flour

Three quarters cup walnut bits and crumbs

Three quarters cup chopped dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325’F. Mix cheese, butter and pepper until roughly blended.  Stir in flour, nuts and cranberries until doughy. Form dough into one inch balls and press flat to one quarter inch. Bake 20 –25 minutes until golden around bottom edges. Substitute aged grated cheddar for the blue cheese, if desired – but add an extra tablespoon of butter.

The best-known dessert wine is Port - made by adding Brandy to half-fermented wine to stun the fermenting yeasts that have been converting grape sugars to alcohol. To be called ‘Port’ the wine must be made in Portugal.

But every wine region has their own sweet pretenders made from their best and ripest grapes. Great dessert wines come with steeper price tags and in a variety of smaller bottle sizes.

Vintage Port is made from the wines of one single, exceptional ‘declared’ year and bottled after only two years in cask. Dark purple in colour and very true to the real grape flavours, Vintage Port should be matured for at least 10 years before drinking.

Perfect for sharing with a few friends, Graham's Quinta dos Malvedos 2001 (358721) $31.99/375ml oozes aromas and flavours of sweet blackberry, mulberry, prunes, cherry and raisins. Drink or hold for 5 years in the cellar.

 

Made primarily from Grenache and Shiraz grapes, aged an average of 8 years, Hardy’s Whiskers Blake Classic Tawny (478537) $24.00/750ml is a delectable Australian pretender. Like many more affordable imitations, it doesn’t quite have the ‘grip’ and cleanly acidic finish that are the hallmarks of the finest tawny dessert wines. But hey… the price is right!

Elsewhere in the wine world, sweet Port styled wines are made from whatever the winemakers have on hand – not necessarily the traditional Port blend of Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional.

New from Argentina, Zuccardi Malamado Malbec (155101) $27.59/750ml is dark red with light brown hues from ageing. Fortified like Port, it is intensely concentrated with a melange of sweet ripe plum, black fruit, marmalade, dried fig and nut flavours with sweetly spicy notes of cinnamon, toasted almonds in the lengthy finish.

Sweet dessert wines also include some Sherries. Undoubtedly the best known, Harvey’s Bristol Cream (215483) $17.50/750ml is often dismissed derisively by sophisticated wine geeks. Made from Fino, Amontillado and Oloroso sherries – then sweetened with Pedro Ximénez. Just because this is Grandma’s favourite sipper, it isn’t necessarily anything less than wonderful.

From the Portugese island of Madeira and fit for an aficionado, Blandy’s 2002 Bual (547547) $70.50/500ml is sweetly full of flavours of crème brûlée toffee and caramel with spicy fruit notes of apricot, dried mango, and candied pineapple. The palate cleansing natural acidity that keeps it from being cloying keeps wine lovers coming back for another sip.  Drink or cellar for up to 30 years! 

 

A locally made homage to the wines of legendary Madeira – a ‘baked barrel’ kind of Sherry - Cedar Creek Platinum M 2009 (330761) $52.70/500ml is mostly Pinot Blanc fortified with spirits then left in small casks in the Okanagan Valley summer sun to reduce and concentrate for five years

Grown in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, Chateau Wolff Rouge (449900) $21.15/375ml is a fortified wine made from the estate’s Dornfelder grapes. It begins with appealing sweet red and black fruit aromas and slides into flavours of black cherry, fig and liquorice.

 

From Naramata in the Okanagan Valley, La Frenz Vintage Port Style Shiraz (866871) $24.75/500ml is traditionally Australian with mouth-watering aromatics of sweet blueberries and blackberries with hints of white pepper. This luscious wine is sweet, but finishes dry on the palate.

Seductively sweet and often almost salty these dessert wines are made for pairing with Walnut, Blue Cheese & Cranberry Cookies.

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