Charcuterie boards have become fashionable additions to any occasion. Not only is it totally Instagram–able, it’s a great crowd-pleaser you can customize to suit your occasions and your personal taste. We’ll teach you the basics of putting together a charcuterie board and pairing it with the perfect wine.
The best charcuterie boards have a little bit of everything, but when it comes to flavors, it’s all about balance. Think about what you love, and the crowd you’re trying to please. Though traditional charcuterie boards were mostly about the meats and cheeses, nowadays, anything goes. Check out our tips for your next big party!
The Board and the Setup
When it comes to your charcuterie board, you want to start with the right board and a few well-placed dishes for structure. Choose a board made from wood or marble to keep it extra sturdy. If you’re watching your budget, you’ll want to go small, but bear in mind how many people you’re trying to feed. A round board looks best with smaller cheese squares, while a rectangle will make a wedge cheese look best.
The star of the charcuterie board is the meat. You should choose a variety of textures and tastes, including some sliced meats that you can pick up with and nibble on some cured meats for your guests to slice, like a sausage, or salami, and a few spreadable types of meat like pate.
Just like with meat, you need to choose cheeses that have a variety of textures and flavors. If your budget allows, go to a local cheese shop for three to five varieties of high-quality cheese. A good rule of thumb is at least one hard cheese, like a sharp cheddar, or a more mild Swiss, one soft cheese, like a brie or cream cheese, and one blue cheese. You don’t need to stick to just three cheeses, but make sure you choose a variety of textures and flavors.
Crackers and Bread Choices
Again, variety is key here. Many people choose to mix both bread and crackers. If you’re going with just crackers, choose a mix of thin and flaky, whole grain and buttery. For a change in texture, add a variety of bread, like crusty french bread, sharp sourdough, and whole-grain bread. Choose aromatic herbs to go along with your assortment of spreadable meats and cheeses. You can use herbal cream cheeses or butter spreads, but to really get the most out of your aromatic herbs, you’ll want to arrange them fresh on the board. Not only will it pump up the flavor and enjoyment, but it also adds a burst of colorful freshness. Nuts and seeds also make great accents, especially when paired with fruit, and of course, the perfect bottle of wine.
Fruits and Vegetables
Traditionally, meats, cheeses, and crackers are the typical charcuterie fare. When accents are used they’re usually things like olives, pickles, or cherry tomatoes. But these days, anything goes. Mix things up with a variety of delicious jellies and jams. Try spicy red pepper jelly, or add a touch of sweetness with fresh grapes or berries. Not only will fruit taste great and pair well with the meat and cheese, but they’ll also add a burst of color to your board, which is sure to wow your guests. Add a variety of dips, hummus, and flavored oil, to enjoy an even wider variety.
Charcuterie Board and Wine Pairing Tips
When it comes to leveling up your charcuterie board, it doesn’t get any classier than wine. There are a few rules you’ll want to keep in mind regarding what type of wine to pair it with. This will largely depend on the type of meats and cheeses you will be serving. Generally speaking, you are safe to pair light to medium-bodied red wine or acidic white wine. You’ll want to avoid wines having strong tannins as this will certainly clash with the spicy and rich flavors common with charcuterie boards. Whether you are preparing a basic or advanced board, the following wine types are good options that will take your dish to the next level.
- Cabernet Sauv
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Pinot Noir
- Cabernet Franc
The best charcuterie boards are about balancing a variety of flavors and giving everyone a little of everything. It’s all about variety, and presentation. Choose flavors you love, mix it up, and remember to make it beautiful! Whether you’re a traditionalist, and you want to stick to meats, cheeses, and crackers, or you want to experiment with a variety of jam, fruit, or vegetables, your charcuterie board is sure to be a showstopper if you level it up with a bottle of wine.