Port Wine Cheese Spread Recipe | Progressive Eats

This port wine cheese ball recipe will take you straight back to the 70s and 80s when port wine cheese was all the rage. The only difference is you'll wonder why this version tastes so much better than you had remembered! Sweet/tangy port wine cheddar rolled into a ball (or a log) then covered in buttery spiced chopped pecans and flat leaf parsley. Elevate your cocktail party memories with this awesome appetizer recipe I made for #ProgressiveEats! | pastrychefonline.com

Port Wine Cheese Ball Recipe

Feel free to make the port reduction up to several days in advance. You can also make and assemble the cheese ball a few days ahead of when you need it. All you'll need to do before serving is roll it in some chopped herbs (optional, but lovely as a garnish) and then let it sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes for the best texture. Enjoy! 

This port wine cheese ball recipe will take you straight back to the 70s and 80s when port wine cheese was all the rage. The only difference is you'll wonder why this version tastes so much better than you had remembered! Sweet/tangy port wine cheddar rolled into a ball (or a log) then covered in buttery spiced chopped pecans and flat leaf parsley. Elevate your cocktail party memories with this awesome appetizer recipe I made for #ProgressiveEats! | pastrychefonline.comAnd don't forget to scroll down to see what everyone else made this month!

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Port Wine Cheese Ball Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 1 softball-sized cheese ball
 
When I was a kid, I thought a port wine cheese ball was the height of fancy. And I still kinda do. Plus, they're delicious. I have made one that tastes almost exactly like what you'd find in stores, only without the artificial colors and gums that can be present in commercial products. If you, too, were a fan of a port wine cheese ball recipe, or even that little tub of port wine cheese spread, you owe it to yourself to give my version a try!
What You Need
For the Port Reduction
  • 2 cups ruby port
For the Port Wine Cheese Ball
  • 8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese at room temperature (the orange kind is more traditional)
  • 3 oz cream cheese plus 1 Tablespoon at room temperature, divided use
  • 3 oz half and half (straight from the fridge is fine)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • Generous 1½ teaspoons port wine reduction, divided use
For the Nuts
  • 1½ cups pecans
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika, or to taste
To Serve
  • Your choice of finely chopped fresh herbs for rolling (optional)
What To Do
For the Port Wine Reduction
  1. Pour the port into a small saucepan.
  2. Crank up the heat and boil until reduced to a thick syrup with a volume of about ¼ cup.** Towards the end, watch it carefully. As the sugar content gets more concentrated, the chances of it burning increase.
  3. Once the bubbles go from "watery boiling" bubbles to a thicker, syrupy kind of boil, periodically pour it into a heat-proof liquid measure to check for volume.
  4. Set aside to cool.
For the Port Wine Cheese Ball
  1. Cut the cheddar and 3 oz of the cream cheese into about 1" chunks and place in the bowl of your food processor. Begin by pulsing to get the cheese chopped up in little bits before just letting it run.
  2. Mix a slightly generous ½ teaspoon of the port wine reduction and the salt into the half and half.
  3. Slowly pour the dairy mixture in through the feed tube.
  4. Process until the cheese mixture is very, very smooth, about 2 minutes or so. Taste and add just a tiny bit more salt if you think it needs it.
  5. Clean off the blade of the food processor and eyeball the cheese mixture to divide it into thirds. Place ⅔ of the mixture in one bowl and leave the remaining third in the food processor.
  6. To that third, add 1 slightly generous teaspoon of port wine reduction and the remaining 1 Tablespoon of cream cheese. Process until smooth, scraping the sides of the container and processing some more until the mixture is a uniform purple-y color. You can add a touch more of the port wine concentrate if you'd like it more purple, but I was happy with mine, so I quit there.
  7. In a bowl large enough to hold all the cheese mixture (it makes about 2 cups or so of spread), layer the orange cheese and the purple cheese together in about ½" layers: orange-purple-orange-purple-orange.
  8. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the cheese and refrigerate until firm.
  9. In the meantime, make fix the pecans.
For the Pecans
  1. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans, the salt and the hot smoked paprika and stir well with a spatula to coat all the nuts in the butter mixture.
  2. Cook, stirring frequently, until the nuts are nicely browned, the butter is sort of foamy and the whole thing smells great, about 5 minutes or so.
  3. Let the nuts cool spread out on several thicknesses of paper towels.
  4. Once the nuts are cool, chop them fairly finely and set aside.
To Assemble the Port Wine Cheese Ball
  1. Spread a piece of plastic wrap out on a work surface.
  2. Run a spatula around the inside of your "cheese mold" and then cut it roughly into quarters. Put the four quarters out on the plastic wrap with the orange and purple stripes running horizontally on two of the quarters and vertically on the other two. You don't have to do this step. I just thought it would make the bands of color more interesting once you cut the ball open. Your choice.
  3. No matter how you scoop the cheese onto the plastic wrap, pull the wrap up over the cheese and then smoosh the cheese into a ball shape (or you could make 2 logs or do whatever you want)
  4. Spread the spiced pecans out in a thick layer on a plate and roll the cheese ball in the nuts until it is evenly coated. You may have to press some on with your hands. Just try to get it evenly coated. Wrap in a clean sheet of plastic wrap until serving time.
  5. About 45 minutes before serving, roll the ball in the optional chopped herbs and allow to sit at room temperature for best flavor and texture.
  6. Serve with crackers, pita chips, vegetables or whatever your heart desires.
  7. Rejoice in the deliciousness of your retro masterpiece.
Other Stuff to Know
**You will not need all the port reduction for this recipe, but if you try to reduce a smaller amount of port, you'll end up burning it. Add a touch of water to the remaining reduction so it's still syrupy but not so thick. Then you can brush it on berries for a berry pie or just toss berries in it as a topping for yogurt or something. Enjoy!

So good, right? If you only have one port wine cheese ball recipe in your repertoire, please make it this one. Most of the other "copycat" recipes I've seen online either direct you to blend straight port in with all the cheese, which I think lends a harsh edge from the alcohol, or they make a sort of "port Jell-o" made with port and gelatin and then layer that in with the cheese spread. I'm sorry, but: yikes! I humbly submit this third alternative as being The Best. Do give it a try and see what you think!

This port wine cheese ball recipe will take you straight back to the 70s and 80s when port wine cheese was all the rage. The only difference is you'll wonder why this version tastes so much better than you had remembered! Sweet/tangy port wine cheddar rolled into a ball (or a log) then covered in buttery spiced chopped pecans and flat leaf parsley. Elevate your cocktail party memories with this awesome appetizer recipe I made for #ProgressiveEats! | pastrychefonline.com

And now, let's check out everyone else's deliciousness for Progressive Eats this month.

Wine and Cheese

Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month's theme is Wine and Cheese and is hosted by me, who blogs at Pastry Chef Online. For our Wine and Cheese Theme, everyone has made a recipe that contains wine, cheese or both. We have some sweets for you, some savories and even a refreshing wine-based beverage!

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.

We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.

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Savories

Sweets

Bonus Beverage

This port wine cheese ball recipe will take you straight back to the 70s and 80s when port wine cheese was all the rage. The only difference is you'll wonder why this version tastes so much better than you had remembered! Sweet/tangy port wine cheddar rolled into a ball (or a log) then covered in buttery spiced chopped pecans and flat leaf parsley. Elevate your cocktail party memories with this awesome appetizer recipe I made for #ProgressiveEats! | pastrychefonline.comAre you a port wine cheese ball recipe fan? Let me know what your favorite retro appetizer is--I'd love to travel down memory lane with you!

What would you like to do now? Click BACK to reread the first page of this post, or click NEXT to find all my other Progressive Eats recipes!

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Comments

  1. says

    Wow, adding syrupy port was genius! What a terrific, irresistible way to combine wine and cheese! Thanks for hosting, Jenni!!!

    • says

      Thanks Liz! And once you have the syrup, the cheese ball comes together really quickly. I will definitely be bringing this one back for holiday parties! Looking forward to your mascarpone cheesecake for dessert!

  2. says

    I have a bottle of port that a friend gave me a while back and I’ve never done anything with it. Wonder if it’s still good? If it is, I’m definitely pouring it into this cheese ball! As always, you take a recipe and improve on it – I learn so much from you Jenni.

    • says

      Oh Laura, that means so much to me! Thank you! And I bet your port is fine. The alcohol content is pretty high which keeps things from getting squirrely, especially if it’s unopened. You’ll have to let me know if this version lives up to your recollections! =)

  3. Hol says

    Would it make a huge difference in flavor or texture if I used pre-packaged shredded cheese instead of dicing up the block?

    • says

      I think since it’s blended, probably not, but generally speaking, pre-shredded cheese is tossed with some anti-caking powdery…stuff (technical term!) that can affect the texture and its meltability. But since you’re not melting it, I’m guessing it will probably be okay. Give it a shot–it most likely will work. Do let me know, and thanks for getting in touch, Hol!

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