Tis’ the season for delicious wine and food pairings. If you’re a foodie like me, you know that charcuterie boards are seriously in fashion from your Instagram feed. Nothing is more pleasing to the eyes than a beautifully decorated charcuterie board. Charcuterie is a French word for preparing meats. Nowadays, it has become a concept that encompasses the whole gastronomic experience of cheese, meats, nuts, fruit, and bread with wine. Not to mention, it’s very French, so if you love French cuisine and miss traveling around France like me, then bring France to your home this holiday with Charcuterie. Now that I’ve made you hungry, I’m going to tell you what how to make a perfect charcuterie board with wine pairings.
With Charcuterie, here are the main things you need to know:
1. There are 4 main categories: cheeses, meats, bread/crackers, and fruits/nuts/chocolate
2. VARIETY MATTERS - be sure to incorporate every category on your board and add 2-3 kinds from each category. This will add the complexity of colours and flavours to your charcuterie.
3. Choose your wines FIRST. Knowing the varietal initially will help you make better decisions with the food you pick to ensure the pairings complement one another.
4. Get Creative – the sense that we use most is sight. Decorate your charcuterie board to make it pleasing to the eyes and trigger your appetite.
Wine and cheese are the perfect pairings. Like pairing any food with wine, I’d recommend choosing them based on similar traits. For example, if you’re having a full-bodied red wine, pair it with a cheese that is stronger in flavour. Similarly, pair a light-bodied white wine with a cheese that has soft, delicate flavours. In contrast, if you’re comparing textural components, match a smooth, elegant wine with a softer cheese or a more structured, tannic wine with hard cheese. Experimentation is truly key to finding the best wine and food pairing. However, I made a chart to make that process easier for you.
When in doubt, think about regions. Likely, if the cheese and wine are from the same region, they are a good pairing. It’s what the locals in Europe do – pair food and wine from the same land. Do this and you can’t go wrong.
Now that we’ve gotten past the cheese fiasco, the rest is pretty straight forward. Meats are my favourite part of a charcuterie board because it adds a nice kick of flavours. My go-to’s are Italian meats like Salami, Prosciutto, Coppa, and Pepperoni. Spanish meats also provide great options like Jamón Ibèrico and Chorizo. Most people use pork and beef for charcuterie boards because they are the best suited as finger foods and the most flavourful of meats.
Bread & Crackers
With so many flavours filling your palate, you need something to balance out all that goodness and add some crunch to the mixture. I love having a warm baguette with butter or spreadable cheeses like Boursin on my charcuterie board to make it more of a meal rather than a snack. Some salted or herb crackers are an easy add-on to your board, as well. This food category doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but if your board doesn’t have it, it’ll be incomplete. Trust me.
Fruits, Nuts & Chocolate
This category adds those extra finishing touches to your board with added sweetness, nuttiness, and colours. Here is a list of items that I would add to my charcuterie board:
· Fresh Fruits – strawberries, raspberries, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, cherries.
· Dried Fruits – apricots, mangos, cranberries, raisins, figs, dates, prunes.
· Nuts - pecans, walnuts, pistachios, almonds.
· Chocolate – milk, nut, and dark chocolate.
When you’re choosing fruits, nuts, and chocolate, it’s best to think of the wine varietals and select ones that match the flavours in your wine. For example, if you’re having a Rosé, add strawberries and cranberries to your board. Similarly, if you’re having a Cabernet Franc, add blackberries, black cherries, and dark chocolate.
Garnish & Decorate
Now, get creative and style-up your charcuterie board! Integrate and mix up the placing of each food category. Shape your meats in unique ways like roses. Slice or dice your cheese. Lay the crackers and bread slightly on its’ side so you can fit more on the board. Use small side dishes to elevate some foods and keep the board neater. Then, use fruit, nuts, and chocolate to fill in the extra spaces. For garnish, use fresh herbs like thyme to add extra decorations. You can also add small sides of sauces and jams. Last but not least, don’t forget cheese knives (they’re available at the Wineisseur store)!!
Now you’ve made your own aesthetic and delicious charcuterie board. Get your family and friends, take out your most beautiful wine glasses, and enjoy an awesome, tasty wine and cheese party! DIG-IN!! (Find accessories for wine and cheese parties at our store.)