Charcuterie boards are an art form in their own right – the combination of colors and textures that can be curated atop your solid wood surface can truly create a unique culinary experience, whether accompanied by a larger spread or even all on its own. There’s nothing like an exquisite charcuterie board to make any occasion seem special, and the perfect accompaniment to such a lavish spread is of course a well-paired glass of wine.
When paired with the right bottles, appetizers like prosciutto-wrapped dates and smoked Gouda to olives, almonds, honeycomb, and sun-dried tomatoes can all produce a highly dynamic and enriching taste experience that’ll be sure to elevate any occasion.
There are many different types of red wine, white wine, and sparkling options to consider when looking to pair some bottles with your charcuterie board. To help you become a charcuterie chef, we’ve outlined some of the top factors to consider when pairing wines with your curated charcuterie board. Read on to help put a refined touch on your next dinner party.
Consider What Flavors Are Present on the Charcuterie Board
It all starts with determining the hallmark characteristics of each individual cheese, fruit, cracker, and cured meat that you’ve included on your board. For instance, a brie may have nutty, caramelized flavors while a prosciutto may have more intense smoky, and briny notes. As a guide, the following wines should be matched with these kinds of common charcuterie board selections:
Prosciutto: Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Grenache are three medium-bodied red wines that make excellent complements to this classic cured meat. Each of these bold reds has deep flavor profiles with notes of blackberry, lavender, vanilla, and tobacco that help enhance the salty smokiness of the prosciutto while also offering subtle spice and tannin contrasts.
Salami: Grenache, Nero D’Avola, and Grenache Shiraz Mataró blends are excellent choices when looking to pair wine with salami. Grenache is known for its juicy raspberry/strawberry character along with hints of dried herbs which make it an ideal partner for spicy cured meats, as the fruit and spice notes can mingle and coexist harmoniously.
Nero D’Avola is another perfect companion to salami thanks to its bold flavors of dark plum and white pepper, delicately balanced against mild acidity. Finally, Grenache Shiraz Mataró blends bring ripeness countered by earthy tannins that create a complex taste experience when combined with salami’s spices.
Chorizo: One of its most popular pairings is with Malbec, which can really bring out the juicy and smoky flavors of the sausage. If you’re looking to lean more towards boldness, though, try a glass of Cabernet or Tempranillo. These wines have deeper and earthier notes that blend perfectly with the depth of flavor in a good chorizo.
Parmesan and aged cheddar: Tempranillo, Cabernet Merlot, and Chardonnay are beautifully balanced wines not only share complementary flavors to the cheeses but also enhance their complexity, creating an elegantly integrated experience.
Pickled and marinated produce: Add a glass of rosé, pinot noir, or chardonnay to amplify the flavor profile; these grape varietals all have distinct aromas that pair well with the medley of antipasti options.
Fresh fruit: A light white such as Riesling or Pinot Grigio highlights the crisp taste of fruit and aids in creating an overall sweeter flavor palette. Alternatively, dry sparkling wines like Prosecco and Champagne are nice alternatives and create a more festive atmosphere when guests are present.
Once you have identified the main flavors that are present on your board, selecting the right wine becomes a lot easier. Generally speaking, wines with strong fruity and acidic aromas and a crisp finish pair beautifully with creamy cheese while sparkling wines are great accompaniments for cured meats.
Choose Light to Medium Bodied Wines
These types of wines tend to be fruit-forward and not overpowering which allows the multitude of flavors present in a charcuterie board to be further highlighted. Furthermore, lighter and medium-bodied wines elevate rather than disrupt the complexity of the individual components of a charcuterie board while being delicate enough that they do not mask any particular flavors.
They are refreshing enough to provide a contrast to the heavier flavors of hard meats, cheese, and nuts. There’s usually just enough body in these wines to stand up to the heavier elements on a charcuterie board without being too heavy overall – making them not only a tasty choice but also an excellent pairing option.
You Will Need a Wine With Higher Acidity Levels
Choosing a wine to pair with a charcuterie board is a delicate task, as the high salt content in cured meats can soften the acidity of many wines. To ensure balance and cut through the often fatty cuts used for charcuterie, it’s best to opt for styles with higher acidity which will refresh the palate without overpowering the subtle flavors.
Vintage Champagne is an ideal pairing for lardo, with its sweetness and bubbles working well with the salty fat content. Similarly, acidic reds such as Pinot Noir or Grenache also offer an excellent match for smoky ham or salami as their sharpness provides necessary contrast.
Crafting the perfect charcuterie board is all about balance, and it is important to remember that the same can be said for pairing wine with it. When choosing a wine for your board, think about the weights of their flavors and try to pair something that won’t overpower the nuances in each individual cheese and meat.
As charcuterie boards often mix sweet and savory, a wine that balances those two elements is ideal, like an unoaked Chardonnay. Likewise, fortified wines and dessert wines are better suited for sweeter boards as they bring out the flavor of the meat and cheeses.