Do you remember wine cheese from your childhood – the orange and red-ish swirled cheese that comes in a container? My parents loved serving it as a pre-dinner snack with Triscuits or for “special occasions” like Thanksgiving and family gatherings. It’s not fancy or gourmet, but it is delicious and addictive in that I-know-this-is-bad-for-me-but-I-can’t-stop-eating-it sort of way.
It’s actually made with Port wine traditionally, which is what gives the cheese spread its tangy and sweet distinctive flavor.
Passover is soon upon us, a holiday of inedible matzah, brisket, a lot of family time and Manischewitz wine. Most Jews I know don’t really love drinking Manischewitz, but it somehow remains a necessary part of the holiday experience. I use it in my Italian-style chopped liver spread and also sometimes to cook meat.
It seems like a missed opportunity that Manischewitz and wine cheese had yet to be married into one delicious and slightly repulsive dish. Welcome world: the Manischewitz wine cheese ball has arrived. It tastes like my childhood in the best way possible and is a perfect appetizer with crackers (or matzah), veggies and a big old glass of wine. Or maybe even four.
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
10 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
1 oz feta (about ¼ cup)
¼ cup butter, at room temperature
2-3 Tbsp Manishewitz wine
Salt and pepper
2 cups chopped walnuts
Place cream cheese and cheddar in a food processor fitted with the blade attachments. Process until smooth. Add crumbled feta cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper and pulse some more. Remove all but ¼ cup of the cheese spread and place into a large bowl.
With remaining ¼ cup of cheese, add softened butter and another pinch of salt and pepper. Start pulsing and slowly add 2-3 Tbsp of Manischewitz wine, until the butter-cheese has changed colors and is smooth.
Scoop out the butter-cheese-Manischewitz mix and add to bowl of cheese spread. Stir until combined, but some swirls of color remain.
Form large ball and either wrap with greased plastic wrap, or place in a bowl.
Refrigerate for around 30 minutes. Spread walnuts out onto a large plate.
Remove cheese ball and place onto walnut-covered plate. Cover cheese ball in walnuts and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Shannon Sarna is Editor of the popular food blog, The Nosher. Her writing and recipes have been featured in Tablet Magazine, JTA News, The Jewish Week, Joy of Kosher Magazine and Buzzfeed. She graduated from Smith College in Northampton, MA with a degree in Comparative Government and Spanish Language and Literature. She currently lives in Jersey City, NJ. Follow Shannon on Twitter and Instagram.