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Simple Ways to Spice Up Your Charcuterie Board

Simple Ways to Spice Up Your Charcuterie Board

Whether hosting family for dinner, friends for an afternoon hangout, or simply enjoying a nice snack with your significant other, a charcuterie board is the perfect creation for any circumstance. With the ability to make the board as salty, sweet, or savory as desired, it's easy to get lost when choosing the right wine to pair with it.

          

Full-Bodied Red Wine

The boldest of the wines, the full-bodied red wines (e.g. Syrah, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon), can be found in steak-house recommendations around the world. Their deep seeded flavor often holds hints of darker fruits – blackberries, blueberries, and plums are common attributes – and frequently leaves behind an aftertaste of black pepper that accentuates red meats well. When crafting a charcuterie board, keep this wine in mind for bolder flavors.

  • Stronger, smoky red meats such as sausage and pork compliment the strong after-taste well.
  • Bold, creamy cheeses such as blue cheese and Gorgonzola, as the richness of their flavors does well with the black-fruit attributes of the wines.

Boards made mostly of strong flavors do well when paired with the equally strong full-bodied reds. However, once other foods begin to join, the deeper reds can drown out the lighter flavor profiles. For those, seek a lighter red, or venture to the whites.

 

Light-Bodied Red Wine

For those moving past the powerful flavor profile of the bolder wines, lighter reds – Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Grenache – still offer the same bold, dry taste, but in a more delicate manner. Brighter fruits such as cherries, strawberries, and raspberries make up the forefront of the flavor, while cinnamon and black pepper are present in the after notes. With a more delicate wine present, a wider range of meats, cheeses, and accessory items can be placed on your board.

  • Lighter meats (think cured ham and red fish) can begin to populate the spread.
  • Creamier, fruity cheeses (such as Brie, Camembert, and Manchego) can top toasted bread and herb-infused crackers.
  • Pickled foods, such as green olives and baby pickles, can find themselves present as the saltiness of the brine pairs well with the sweeter aromas.
  • Truffles, brownies, and other chocolates make a good companion with their rich flavors.

These light-bodied reds begin to provide you with additional flavor options that can present themselves in unique ways on your charcuterie board. However, a robust board can have more than one type of wine attached. Whites provide a citrusy flavor that pairs well with popular charcuterie options.

 

Full-Bodied White Wine

The world's most famous wine: Chardonnay. A full-bodied white wine, it shares similarities to others of its class. These full-bodied white wines are characterized by creamy, buttery textures with flavors reminiscent of citrusy, tropical fruits. Otherwise known as the perfect summer picnic wine— if paired with the right foods. While still maintaining the dry aftertaste of its full-bodied red wine cousin, these whites have little else in common. The citrus undertones allow for a little more creativity than the meatier reds.

  • Prosciutto pairs nicely with the dry, fruity flavor of full-bodied whites as the salty-sweet combination never fails to succeed.
  • Soft cheeses (think goat cheese and fresh Mozzarella) apply a creamy texture that follows the silkiness of the whites lavishly.
  • Spicy mustards spread on plain crackers or toast do a good job complimenting the lighter flavors of the whites.
  • Fresh fruit and lemon-flavored desserts do a nice job of finishing the bottle and closing out the palette.

Their citrus fruit background provides a tartness to the wine that allows them to be paired with the creamier, saltier foods that are added to your charcuterie boards. However, the sweetest of the wines is their light-bodied little sibling.

 

Light-Bodied White Wine

Barring dessert wines, light-bodied white wines remain some of the sweetest wines made. This unique sweetness found in wines like Riesling and Pinot Gris creates an interesting space on which you can build. Finding the proper contrast to their creamy soft profile on your charcuterie board is key to using them properly. A relationship found in every major kitchen, the sweet and salty combination works just as well here as it does there. 

  • Spiced meats (like peppered salami pop) work well when consumed with the sweet flavors found in the light-bodied wines.
  • Deep flavored cheese like Roquefort or St. Aguir Blue leaves a salty, creamy flavor that's exemplified by the sweet aftertaste.
  • Earthy flavors found in brown mustards and liver pâté are brought forward when using these sweetened wines.

The key to pairing the sweeter white wines is to let the food do the talking. With such a non-intrusive profile, the sweet wines are best suited to compliment the richer flavors found on popular charcuterie boards, rather than be the main focus.

 

Wine can be a magical thing when paired correctly. It's one of the few drinks that truly draws out the full flavor profile provided by the food it is served with. Knowing when and how to choose the proper wine can seem like a daunting task at first, but be patient, choosing the right pairing should not be rushed. A charcuterie board is full of different flavors, pick a couple of prominent ones and go from there. Remember, each flavor profile has a wine that pairs best with its unique characteristics. Don't be afraid to experiment either. That's how someone discovered that creamy cheeses go best with full-bodied wines in the first place. Doing so will lead to you discovering your own favorite combination as well.

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