Alto Fine Old Vintage

Recipe & Pairings

In general, a good rule of thumb is that as the colours of a dessert gets darker the wine should get darker. Classically the way that food has always been paired with sweet wines and ports is to serve sweet with sweet but this is not the only guideline to go by. The AltoOld Fine goes equally well with a soft, silky gorgonzola and with a dark chocolate pudding. The sweet and dried fruit character of the Old Fine complements the sweet, acidic flavours of a good dark chocolate; add a bit of sweet spice like cinnamon and you have a match made in heaven!

Sweetness in food

When pairing wines with sweet desserts it is important to first ascertain what the origin of the sweetnessxs is. Is it a sticky baked fruit pudding made with stone fruit like peaches in season or is the sweetness derived from slow poached dried fruit. It can be a dark chocolate self-saucing pudding or a classic crème caramel topped with bitter burnt caramel. The source of the sweetness will impact the acidity, the mouthfeel, texture and obviously the intensity of the sweetness.

Flavours

Spice: Alto Fine Old Vintage has nuances of cinnamon on the nose and adding this sweet, aromatic spice to desserts definitely enhances the spicy character of the wine.

Cheese: This full-bodied wine, with its deep fruit, spice and chocolate character needs to be paired with a strong flavoured cheese like a silky, soft gorgonzola.

Chocolate: Chocolate is an obvious pairing with this wine but be careful not make it too sweet. Use a 70% or even an 85% dark chocolate with a good acidic balance to balance the natural sweetness in the wine.

Dried fruit: The wine displays aromas of raisins and prunes on the nose which makes dried fruit an excellent choice for pairing. The creamy character of Turkish dried figs especially suits and elevates this wine.


Dark Chocolate Torte with Dried Figs

Makes 1 (24cm) Cake   |   Time 1 hour 15 minutes

The sweet and dried fruit character of the Old Fine complements the sweet, acidic flavours of really dark chocolate. We are talking about a quality 70% or even 80% dark chocolate here, add a bit of sweet spice like cinnamon and you have a match made in heaven.

½ cup dried figs, chopped finely

¼ cup (125 ml) Alto Fine Old Vintage

250 g dark chocolate

180 g butter, room temperature

150 g sugar

6 large eggs, separated

20 ml cacao

200 g ground almonds

10 ml corn flour

2.5 ml baking powder

2.5 ml salt

10 ml ground cinnamon

2.5 ml cream of tartar

For the salted butter ganache:

200g dark chocolate, chopped

¼ cup double thick cream

45g salted butter, room temperature

  1. Preheat the oven to 160˚ Line a 24 cm spring form cake tin with baking paper and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Soak the figs in the Alto Old Vintage. Chop the chocolate roughly and melt on the defrost setting of the microwave for 1 minute at a time. Stir well before placing it back into the microwave for another minute. Continue until most (but not all) of the chocolate pieces are melted. Stir the chocolate until the residual heat melts all the chocolate, set aside to cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using an electric beater. Add the yolks one at a time and mix until well incorporated.
  4. Stir the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture.
  5. Combine the ground almonds, corn flour and baking powder together and mix into the butter mixture.
  6. In a clean glass or metal bowl add the salt and cream of tartar to the egg whites. Beat the whites until stiff. Drain the figs from the Alto Old Fine Vintageand set aside.
  7. Mix 1/3 of the whites into the batter. Carefully fold in the rest of the whites and figs (Don’t overwork the mixture).
  8. Gently spoon the batter into the prepared tin. Bake for +- 50 min or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Meanwhile, make the ganache, melt chocolate, cream and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until chocolate melts. Set aside for 1-2 hours to thicken slightly.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Loosen the edges and place on a cooling rack and let it cool in the tin, completely. Top the cake with the salted butter ganache.

Blue Cheese and Biltong Biscotti

Makes 50 small biscotti and 25 medium biscotti   |   Time 2 hours 30 minutes

60 ml raisins

60 ml sultanas

1/2 cup (125 ml) Alto Fine Old Vintage

½ cup (113 g) butter

100 g blue cheese like gorgonzola

2 cups (210 g) cake flour

1 ½ tsp (7.5 ml) baking powder

½ tsp (2.5 ml) salt

¼ cup (60 ml) finely chopped biltong

3 tbsp (45 ml) sugar

2 eggs, beaten, at room temperature

  1. Place the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Preheat the oven to 180˚ Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Soak the raisins and sultanas in the alto vintage in a small bowl.
  3. Beat the butter and cheese in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until smooth. Beat in the sugar and eggs.
  4. Sieve the dry ingredients together and add the raisins, sultanas and biltong to the flour mixture.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat until just combined.
  6. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet; shape the dough into 3 logs of 15 cm x 3 cm.
  7. Bake the biscotti for +- 30 minutes or until golden and a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Take the biscotti out of the oven and let it cool for 30 minutes on the baking trays.
  9. Transfer the biscotti to a cutting board, using a serrated knife, cut the log on the diagonal into 1 cm slices.
  10. Arrange the biscotti on the baking sheet. Bake until pale golden, +- 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.