If there is one thing that wine lovers adore more than most, it is to accompany a good charcuterie board full of cold meats and cheeses with a perfect wine.
Have you ever seen a charcuterie board with lots of different deli meats and cheeses, but you find it difficult to find the right wine (or wines) to pair with the assortment of meats, cheeses, pickles, etc.? If your answer is yes, this is for you!
Let's start by defining:
What is charcuterie?
The original term referred to the establishment where sausages and cold cuts were sold. Currently, the charcuterie comprises a very wide range of products, from those made with bases of beef, lamb, poultry, soy, etc., to other types of presentations such as paté, a spreadable paste made from a mixture of meat elements with salts, spices, fats and additives.
What are the components of a charcuterie board?
Typically gourmet boards have:
- Cold meats: Hams, salamis, sausages, etc.,
- Cheeses of various consistencies. Hard cheeses like Parmigiano, gouda, manchego, gruyere, and cheddar; and soft cheeses like brie, goat cheese, blue cheese, etc.
- Different types of nuts, like Indian nuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts or peanuts, etc.
- Dry fruits: Most common but not limited to cranberries and figs.
- Pickled vegetables - pickles, olives.
- Natural elements: fresh chopped fruit, and/or cherry tomatoes.
If you are trying to make one at home, I suggest you start by choosing one or two items from each category, with the addition of bread slices, toast, and/or neutral crackers.
What wines are recommended with charcuterie boards?
I usually give my clients a base guide I like to call the “Basic Guide to Pairing Wine and charcuterie.” But learning how to pair charcuterie is easier than you think! And because everyone’s tastes are different, it’s important to note that it’s a good idea to taste your elements with a couple of different wines: A white and a red; that way, you can decide which one you like most and enjoy your experience that much more.
Here are some of my suggestions and observations:
1. Dry meats tend to be greasy, so it would be pleasant to cleanse your palate with a wine that has acidity and tannins, such as a young (or with little aging in the barrel) Tempranillo or Malbec.
2. Matured hams such as Spanish Serrano Ham, Italian Prosciutto, German Westphalie ,or Portuguese Presunto de Chaves, have basic production methods in common (sauté, rest and dry), so they don’t necessarily need a wine with a lot of aging. It can be a fine-flavored red, like Pinot Noir or Merlot. If you pair it with bland bread, and a mixture of nuts you will have a lovely feast on the palate.
3. Some cold meats and sausages can become quite herby and intense. This type of cold meats harmonize with a sparkling wine, or a white wine with a slight sparkle since that bubble will help balance the intensity; or a Shiraz, whose peppery notes will stabilize the spices of the dish.
4. Try to avoid wines that hide the mild flavors of lighter and more delicate cheeses and turkey hams. A Chardonnay would be a good start. This also works for turkey, chicken, or tenderloin cold meat. You can try the tenderloin with a fruity red wine like a Beaujolais.
5. If your cold meats and cheeses are smoked: Today we can find smoked flavors all around the world, and we must consider that they have a lot of depth. So, you can pleasantly surprise your taste buds by pairing them with a brut sparkling white wine. Also, try a salami or a chorizo with a Nebbiolo or a Malbec.
6. Game meat: You will need a more powerful and structured wine, a red with extensive barrel aging, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, or a blend with a strong base.
And last, my most important suggestion is to experiment and enjoy yourself without trying too hard to find “the perfect pairing.” One person’s idea of perfection is not the same as someone else. In my opinion, it is really about spending a moment of enjoyment in good company—and that is the best pairing.
To pair a glass of wine it is not necessary to complicate things too much, just be open to trying new flavors. I hope that this new year is one of new beginnings, of great attitudes, and of trying new things, new wines and new dishes.
Here’s to 2021 being a trip around the world through the flavors you try!
¡Buen provecho y Salud!