Elevate a classic cheesecake recipe with the subtle notes of white wine. Smooth, creamy, rich, and dense, this luxurious White Wine Cheesecake will make any occasion special!
Why this recipe works
- This classic cheesecake is smooth, creamy, with a dense mouthfeel
- White wine adds subtle fruity undertones for additional layers of flavor
- Serve it plain or with toppings like jams, fruit, and/or whipped cream
White wine is more than just for drinking. Its delicate notes can add subtle undertones to baked goods.
For instance, Plymouth Bay Winery's Widow’s Walk white table wine lends green apple and citrus notes to a classic cheesecake recipe, and this White Wine Cheesecake is the result. Topped with their What'ta Pear cinnamon-accented wine jelly, there's lots of flavor to be had here!
What you need
I adapted my White Wine Cheesecake recipe from several classic cheesecake recipes.
Some have flour in the recipe, giving the cheesecake a more cake-like texture, and I want a creamy-style cheesecake. Some have so much sugar that I think the delicate wine flavor will be drowned out.
This cheesecake has just the right balance between a creamy, dense texture and rich, tangy flavor.
There aren't that many ingredients for cheesecake: full-fat cream cheese and sour cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla. Choose a white wine that you like to drink.
By the way, now isn’t the time for reduced fat or nonfat cream cheese. They contain fillers that might prevent the cheesecake from setting properly. Also, never substitute whipped cream cheese for the solid block (you don't want that extra air).
Also, It’s important to bring all cold ingredients to room temperature before beginning. They’ll combine quickly and evenly so you won’t risk over-mixing the batter. Beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky cheesecake batter. Who wants that?
How to make a cheesecake
There are 2 main components to a cheesecake: the crust and the filling.
Step 1: Make the crust
A graham cracker crust is standard for cheesecake, and it's quick to make. Plus, baking the graham cracker crust sets it and keeps it from getting soggy or shifting when the cheesecake batter is added.
Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter and sugar (photo 1), then tamp down well into a 9-inch round springform pan. Use a pastry tart tamper, the bottom of a measuring cup, or a straight sided glass tumbler to pack the crust down tightly (photo 2).
Let the crust cool completely before adding the filling.
Step 2: Make the filling
Beat the cream cheese until it's light and fluffy, then mix in the sugar until it's smooth and creamy. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and wine and beat on low speed until fully combined (photo 3).
Finally, add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on medium speed only until last egg is fully incorporated (photo 4).
The most important tip to remember when making a cheesecake filling is to mix only until the ingredients are incorporated, especially when adding in the eggs. You don't want to add air into the mix or the filling will crack or bubble during baking.
Step 3: Bake the cheesecake
Pour the cheesecake batter into the cooled crust. Use a small offset spatula or spoon to smooth it into an even layer.
Bake the cheesecake in a water bath at 350°F for 55 to 70 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan (photo 5).
Step 4: Cool the cheesecake
Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven (with the water bath) as it cools down for 1 hour. This allows the cheesecake to avoid sudden temperature changes, again keeping it from cracking.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven, then cool it completely at room temperature. Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
You can serve the cheesecake with any desired toppings, like jam, fruit, and/or whipped cream. Cover and store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions you might have...
Yes, because they’ll combine quickly and evenly, so you won’t risk over-mixing the batter. Beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky cheesecake batter. Who wants that?
Now isn’t the time for reduced fat or nonfat cream cheese. They contain fillers that might prevent the cheesecake from setting properly. Also, never substitute whipped cream cheese for the solid block. Again, you don't want that extra air.
To help prevent the cheesecake from deflating and cracking as it cools, avoid over-mixing the batter as best you can, especially when adding in the eggs. You don’t want air beaten into the eggs because it causes them to inflate while baking, then deflate when cooled. This can crack the cheesecake or form bubbles on the surface.
Pro tip: Use or adapt a water bath
Does cheesecake need a water bath or not?
The reason to use a water bath is that the water acts as an insulator, protecting the sides of the cheesecake from over-browning while the filling sets. Interestingly enough, only two of my sources mentioned using a water bath, but I still thought it was prudent advice.
If you have a roasting pan large enough to fit your springform pan, wrap the outside of the pan in a double layer of foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way to the top. Although a good crust keeps filling from leaking out, the foil helps protect against water leaking in.
Set the wrapped cheesecake in a large roasting pan, and pour hot water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
I don't have a roasting pan large enough to fit my springform pan. Instead, I use a substitute trick by placing a 9- x 13-inch baking pan of water on a lower rack in the oven to create steam. By placing the cheesecake directly above this pan in the oven, enough steam is created to insulate the cheesecake.
If you don't fill the pan with enough water, the sides of the cheesecake can get over-browned, like in the picture above (photo 5).
Creamy, dreamy cheesecake
This cheesecake is wonderful…creamy, rich, slightly tangy, with light notes of green grapes faintly peeking out at the finish from the wine.
In addition, the graham cracker crust added a buttery dimension and a nice contrasting texture to the finished dessert.
You don't have to make a full-sized cheesecake if you're looking for smaller portions. The ingredient amounts for a mini cheesecake are half of what they'd be for a full-sized baked cheesecake, and it's baked in a 6-inch springform pan, like this Lemon Curd Cheesecake.
Needless to say, this White Wine cheesecake pairs beautifully with the Widow’s Walk wine itself. I can’t stop eating the cheesecake, so I make sure to share it with friends.
Many thanks to Gabrielle Sumner, Assistant Manager at Plymouth Bay Winery, for sending the gift basket so I could play with their wines and jellies. They have many more wines and jellies to try…the possibilities are endless!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Pies and tarts can be sweet or savory, and there are so many fillings from which to choose. From fruits to nuts and custards, there's bound to be a pie or tart that catches your fancy! Here are a few choices to try.
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Smooth & Creamy White Wine Cheesecake
- large roasting pan or 9- x 13-inch baking pan
For the crust
For the filling
- 4 cups cream cheese, full fat (4 blocks), at room temperature, see Recipe Notes
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup sour cream, full fat, at room temperature, see Recipe Notes
- ⅓ cup white wine
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- toppings, like jam, fruit, and/or whipped cream, optional
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Make the crust: Prepare a graham cracker pie crust and press into a 9-inch round springform pan (you don't have to grease the pan first). Use a pastry tart tamper, the bottom of a measuring cup, or a straight sided glass tumbler to pack the crust down tightly.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and cool completely. Before adding the cheesecake batter, brush the top inside of the pan above the crust line with melted butter to help keep any batter that rises above the crust from sticking to the pan.
- Make the filling: Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add granulated sugar and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, white wine, and vanilla extract and beat on low speed until fully combined.
- On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. The idea is to incorporate the eggs without adding too much air to prevent cracks later.
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the cooled crust. Use a small offset spatula or spoon to smooth it into an even layer.
- Prepare the water bath: If you have a roasting pan large enough to fit your springform pan, wrap outside of the springform pan in a double layer of foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way to the top (although a good crust keeps filling from leaking out, the foil helps protect against water leaking in). Set the wrapped cheesecake in the roasting pan, and pour hot water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cheesecake (about 2 inches). Carefully transfer the roasting pan on the lower third rack in the oven.
- If you don't have a roasting pan large enough to fit your springform pan, place a 9- x 13-inch baking pan at the bottom of the oven. Pour in enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the pan. This creates steam to simulate the water bath. Put the cheesecake on the lower-third rack directly above the water-filled pan.
- Continuing: Bake the cheesecake for 55 to 70 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan. If you notice the cheesecake browning too quickly on top, tent it with aluminum foil halfway through baking.
- Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven (with the water bath) as it cools down for 1 hour. This allows the cheesecake to avoid sudden temperature changes, again keeping it from cracking. Remove the cheesecake from the oven, then cool it completely at room temperature.
- Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight. Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim.
- Cut the cheesecake into slices with a sharp knife, wiping the knife and dipping it into warm water between each cut to get nice, neat slices.
- Serve the cheesecake with any desired toppings. Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- This cheesecake can be made the day before you want to serve since it has to chill for quite some time. Another way to make this cheesecake ahead of time is to freeze it. Cheesecake can be frozen up to 2 or 3 months. Here's a helpful tutorial for freezing cheesecakes. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.