Our Cranberry Jalapeño Dip combines spicy and sweet flavors for a tasty appetizer perfect for Thanksgiving or other holidays. Excellent served with a good sparkling wine, which happens to be the specialty of Westport Rivers Winery.
Today the Wine Pairing Weekend crew is exploring “Under the Radar U.S. Wine Regions” for our November theme.
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I figured this would be a great time to focus on New England, home to the first Thanksgiving nearly 400 years ago. Speaking of Thanksgiving, be sure to check out our Thanksgiving Menu Ideas, a collection of 3 different menu possibilities, all with wine pairings.
I decided to make a Thanksgiving appetizer, Cranberry Jalapeño Dip, and serve it with wines from one of my favorite New England producers, Westport Rivers Vineyard. If you want another easy dip to whip up to serve along with this one, try our Super Easy Spicy Green Onion Dip!
Cranberries are a natural for a Thanksgiving recipe, and for our New England theme.
Passing by cranberry bogs during our annual summer vacations on Cape Cod, I think of the berries as a quintessential local food. My bubble was burst a bit when I learned that Massachusetts takes a back seat to Wisconsin when it comes to cranberry production, but hey, we still are a big source of the berries!
Last fall, when dinner events were still a thing, I had a chance to attend an Ocean Spray Cranberry Chef Collective Dinner hosted by Puritan & Co.
The creative group of chefs really opened my eyes about what can be done with cranberries, as we sampled dishes ranging from oysters with cranberry chutney to cranberry sage pork dumplings.
Inspired by the creative dishes at this cranberry dinner, I was ready to come home and experiment. One idea that came to mind was featuring cranberries in a dip. I had a sense that a spicy / sweet combo could work nicely with cranberries.
I found a number of others had gone down this path before, and referenced this recipe from Grits & Pinecones among others in developing our version of a Cranberry Jalapeño Dip.
After a trial round making the dip with with quite a bit of sugar, today’s recipe dials back the sugar — although there is still enough to offset the natural bitterness of cranberries. We punched up the spicy elements, using some garlic and more jalapeño than the first version.
The resulting cranberry dip is a good balance of spicy and a bit of sweet, spread over the savory cream cheese. Which leads us to the wine pairing for cranberry jalapeño dip…
I had planned to remake this cranberry jalapeño dip and share the recipe in advance of Thanksgiving. When I saw the under the radar US wine regions theme for November, I thought pairing the dip with a New England wine would be a perfect combination.
I had several Westport Rivers Vineyard options to choose from, as I had recently received my fall wine club shipment along with some extra bottles I ordered.
The winner was the 2009 Westport Rivers Brut Cuvée RJR ($30), an excellent sparkling wine made in the traditional method. Toasted sesame notes on the nose, green apple and a hint of butterscotch on the palate. Layers of flavor on the finish.
The Westport Brut Cuvée is an excellent pairing for the cranberry dip! The hint of sweetness and bubbles balanced the spices and creaminess of the cheese, and handled the tartness of the cranberries as well as the sugar in the dip.
Westport Rivers is located in Southeastern Massachusetts, close to the ocean in the town of Westport.
Founded by the Russell family in 1986, their passion for sparkling wines comes through in bottles like the RJR. Their bubbly is top notch – the RJR has been served at the White House and was among Julia Child’s favorite wines.
I covered more about the winery in this Visiting Westport Rivers Winery, written after visiting back in 2018.
I should note that Westport does make some very good still wines, too. I did test out their 2019 Five Dogs white blend with the dip. This interesting blend of Chardonnay, Geisenheim 318, Rkatsiteli, Pinot Gris, and Schönberger worked pretty well with the dip. With some residual sugar, I think if you made a sweeter version of the dip this might be the way to go.
If you get your hands on a bottle of the Five Dogs, I really liked it with our Indian Butter Chicken!
The folks at Westport Rivers suggest their Pinot Noir Rosé as a good Thanksgiving wine option. If you’re a bubbly fan, I’d say you could definitely buy two bottles of their RJR, one for the dip and other appetizers, and another for the main course!
New England Wine
New England has a lot going on for it. We’ve got history, beautiful fall foliage, beaches, fresh seafood, and up until recently, the Patriots and their winning ways.
In the beverage department, New England is more known for beer than wine. I do love the abundance of great local breweries in our area, and the region even has an IPA style in its name.
Although we might not have the number of wineries other regions may have, Westport isn’t the only quality wine producer in the region. There is even a Southeastern New England AVA, which benefits from the Gulf Stream’s moderating influence on the otherwise blustery New England winters.
The Coastal Wine Trail is a route including about a dozen Southeastern New England AVA wineries, including Wesptort. Stretching from Cape Cod to historic seaport towns such as Newport, Rhode Island, consider the area for your future wine travel! Sakonnet Vineyards and Greenvale are two that I’d recommend visiting, based on their high quality wines.
Although the climate is very different, I’d be remiss in not mentioning that Vermont also has some excellent wines worth a trip! In particular, I really enjoyed a visit to Shelburne Vineyard, located by Lake Champlain, just south of Burlington.
For a good taste of fall inNew England on the plate and in the glass, check out our Maple Pork Tenderloin paired with Shelburne’s Crimson Sails blend of Marquette and Petite Pearl.Print
Cranberry Jalapeño Dip
A festive appetizer recipe featuring fresh cranberries, combining savory and sweet flavors. Serve for Thanksgiving, game day or any time you are looking for a good snack.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 10 servings 1x
- Category: appetizer
- Method: food processor
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 8 ozs cream cheese, taken out of fridge to soften before starting
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 scallions (green onions) coarsely chopped
- 12 ozs fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
- ½ tsp cumin
- 3 tbsp chopped jalapeño pepper (1 large)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tbsp apple cider
- pinch of salt
- pita chips or crackers for serving
- Soften the cheese: Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator 20 to 30 minutes for making the tip in order to soften.
- Chop garlic: Add the garlic cloves and scallions to the food processor. Pulse to coarsely chop.
- Add cranberries: Pour the rinse cranberries into the food process, and pulse to coarsely chop.
- Add jalapeño, sugar, lemon juice, cumin, salt and apple cider to the food processor. Pulse to combine.
- Spread the cream cheese evenly across the bottom of a baking dish or wide bowl. Spread the cranberry mixture even on top of the cream cheese, and serve along with pita chips or crackers. Enjoy!
- Use the seeds and pith of the jalapeño pepper for a spicier dip; discard them for a milder dip. We used about half of them for a medium level spice.
- You could use cilantro instead of parsley if you like.
Keywords: fresh cranberry recipes, cranberry dip, spicy cranberry dip, Thanksgiving appetizers
#WinePW Explores US Wine Regions
Join the #WinePW gang as we explore Under the Radar US Wine Regions, just in time forThanksgiving. We will be meeting on Twitter, November 14th at 11:00am EST using the #WinePW hashtag.
My fellow #WinePW bloggers will be dishing on the following topics, please join in the conversation.
- Nicole from Somms Table writes “Cooking to the Wine: Acquiesce Grenache Rosé with a Glazed Stuffed Pork Loin Roast”
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Mahalo Plenty! Hawaiian Sips and Nibbles”
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm adds “Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving by Eating and Drinking Locally“
- Jeff from Food Wine Click! brings “Idiot’s Grace: Explorers in the Columbia Gorge AVA“
- David from Cooking Chat posts “Cranberry Jalapeño Dip with New England Wine”
- Linda from My Full Wine Glass suggests “Raising a glass of PA Cab Franc – paired with a Philly cheesesteak“
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator showcases “Local Love: 6 Ventura County Wines from Local Vines paired with Watkins Beef, Ventura Fresh Fish #WinePW”
- Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen shares “Is Virginia For Wine Lovers? #Winepw”
- Susannah from Avvinare.com posts about “Wines from New Mexico Paired with New Mexican Style Beef Chile“