Fortifying myself

My new job involves the occasional bottle of booze landing on my desk to take for a spin.

Poor me.

The latest treat was McWilliam’s Wines Spice Royale.

As I noted on drinks central earlier this week, McWilliam’s Wines has released a new range of flavoured fortifieds: Strawberry Delight, Spice Royale and Espresso Press.

Russell Cody, McWilliam’s Senior Winemaker, has been making fortified wines for more than 10 years and wanted to create something innovative that would make fortifieds appeal to a broader range of people interested.

It’s a pretty smart idea.

Cody says that “not many younger people know what ‘tawny’ or ‘apera’ wines taste like – but they do know what espresso coffee or strawberries taste like. By combining the richness of fortified wine with new flavours to bring out the characteristics of the wine has really worked well.”

Not being a “younger” person, I’m quite familiar with fortifieds – tokay is my fave – so I was keen to try Spice Royale (and a little disappointed to miss out on the Espresso Press, I’ve developed a weird obsession with wanting to try an espresso martini).


The first thing I did was turn the Spice Royale into a cocktail for my mum, dad, sister and DD last Saturday night, using the recipe on the side of the bottle, which called for a spicy ginger beer, lime juice, bitters and almond essence. I didn’t have any almond essence, but the cocktail turned out delish anyway.

Then, yesterday morning, as DD was ironing his shirt – ah, the glorious domesticity – I browned half a dozen lamb shanks and chucked them in the slow cooker with some Spice Royale.

I served them to the kids for dinner last night. They were YUM. Here’s the recipe (lamb shanks are VERY hard to photograph appealingly, especially without natural light and after they’ve been stewing in a slow cooker for 8 hours):

RECIPE: Slow cooker lamb shanks with Spice Royale and olives


Olive oil

6 lamb shanks

2 large brown onions, 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped in food processor

400g can crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup beef stock

1/2 cup Spice Royale

2 tblsps tomato paste

1 tsp chilli flakes

2 tsps fresh rosemary leaves

Jar of olives, drained

Mashed potato to serve

METHOD: Brown the lamb shanks. Turn off the heat, saute the onion mixture for a minute in the cooling pan. Put the onion mixture, tomatoes, stock, Spice Royale, tomato paste, chilli flakes and rosemary leaves in the slow cooker. Place the shanks on top. Cook on low for 8 hours. Add olives. If too liquid, thicken with some cornflour mixed in water. Serve with mash.



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