Building a delicious and equally beautiful charcuterie board with piles of prosciutto, warmed salted almonds, buttery pâté, a bunch of grapes meant for a painting, a dallop of oozing honeycomb, and a dizzying array of cheeses is an art. And while you can look at those perfectly photographed Pinterest photos all you want, getting creative with your own hot take is really where things get interesting.
A good charcuterie board isn’t just the before dinner grazing platter – it’s the main event. When it comes to pairing wines with a large selection of flavors from briny to spicy, taking a tasting approach with more than one glass is a fun way to lean into pairings and a fitting approach for the casual yet playful evening.
Charcuterie Board Wine Pairing
A well assembled charcuterie board has a lot going on. If it’s overflowing, you’re doing something right. The spectrum of flavors and textures on the board is generally just as full, and it can be tricky to find a wine that is going to vibe with each component. Because a charcuterie board screams party, you might as well pull out a handful of bottles to pair with different bites, sipping and snacking the night away.
Whether you are piling that soppressata sky high, branching out to the duck rillette, or sticking to your fave chorizo, there are plenty of options when it comes to cured meats. Chillable, glou glou-esque wines are a great match for these fatty morsels. Think gamay, St. Laurent, zweigelt, cab franc, blaufränkisch, and any blend that makes you want to sip it cold from a tumbler at sunny patio happy hour. The prominent berry flavors keep things light and flavorful, while the subtle tannins don’t clash with infused fennel salami or spicy sausage.
Once you start to lean into those smokier spicier meats, you can look to whites with vibrant acidity and full fruit palates like chardonnay, chenin blanc, riesling, and sauvignon blanc, which all make crisp and refreshing pairings.
With more complex meats, like Jamón Ibérico, you can pair fuller-bodied wines, keeping in mind you still want good acidity. A high quality Cava or sparkling rosé also pair well with the subtly sweet notes of the jamón.
From soft, to bloomy rind, to semi-hard to pungent, your charcuterie board should have a good selection of cheeses that hit different notes of salt and fat while running the gamut of textures. When it comes to wine pairings with your cheese, you want to consider the intensity, salt, fat, acidity, tannins, and texture to make that perfect match.
Soft, fresh, and fatty spreadable cheeses like chèvre, Camembert, or ricotta and can morph (kinda like tofu) to pair with numerous wines. These young and fresh cheeses are also great matches for those light-hearted glou glou reds like Beaujolais and lambrusco, along with crisp whites like gewürztraminer, Champagne, Chablis, chenin blanc, albariño, and Provençal rosé.
If you are adding semi-hard cheeses to your board, like Gruyère or Manchego, medium-bodied whites like viognier, white Burgundy, or pinot blanc balance the stronger cheeses with a fuller palate, yet good acidity.
Finally, you have to have a small pile of rugged chunks of well-aged hard cheese with those sweet, sweet tyrosine crystals. Parmigiano Reggiano is, of course, the staple here, and its sweet, bitey, nutty nature pairs beautifully with heavy reds that also have some years under their belt like nebbiolo, Bordeaux, and Burgundy. If you are looking for a white to match, think aged white Burgundy, marsanne, or riesling. Oh, and you can’t go wrong with dry bubbles here.
Briny Bits & Bobs
The pickles, the pickled peppers, the olives–these are the briny bits. They are both tangy and powerfully umami, making them a little tricky to pair with wine. More mellow friends, like buttery Castelvetrano olives and marinated artichoke hearts, are easier to pair. Think Chablis, vinho verde, grüner veltliner, or albariño.
A well-rounded board will have some selection of fruit, either dried, fresh, or both. The picturesque thing to do here is an entire bunch of ripe grapes cascading off the side. You can play with whatever is in season, from fresh cherries and figs to dried apricots. Think intuitively when pairing sips with your chosen fruit. A skin-contact viognier plays on the rich, acidic bite from a dried apricot, while a pinot noir is a natural match for ripe red berries, as they mimic the wine’s profile.
While nuts are a small percentage of your board overall, they are an important textural piece to the party. Whether you go for the extra salted almonds, roasted hazelnuts, or shell-your-own pistachios, you gotta have ’em. In general, you can follow these guidelines: riesling with spiced nuts, dry bubbles with salted nuts, and fuller-bodied reds for roasted nuts. A sip of pinot noir with a couple roasted almonds is chef’s kiss, while a fatty, luscious macadamia nut is great with a glass of Brut.
Not to be overlooked, the extras are more than just those vessels which are crackers and crostini. They are little blobs of chutney, jams, and fragrant honey. Visually, these are key for a dramatic looking charcuterie board and gastronomically speaking, they are small and mighty players elevating each bite. Get creative here and sip what you think pairs best with whichever extras you choose.
Bringing It Together
You don’t need to open twenty different bottles and sip something different with each curated bite, though, if you’ve got a crowd, that’s a guaranteed fun time. If you want to rein it in and stick with a single red or white, hone in the flavors and textures of your board so you can rely on one bottle to do the trick. Get creative and make your own pairings!
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