It’s hard to go past charcuterie boards. They’re amazing treats that work well on picnics, at parties, and in countless other situations. Their versatility is part of the appeal, as you can choose the ingredients you want and the quantities – matching the board to your preferences. Pair some wines for a charcuterie board, and you can make a good charcuterie board great.
Cured meats, olives, nuts, fresh fruit, dried fruit, crackers, and cheese are familiar features on the boards. There are plenty of less common additions too.
Not surprisingly, finding the best wines for your charcuterie board can seem incredibly confusing. There are so many different textures and flavors on your board. Plus, charcuterie boards are never exactly the same twice.
The simplest answer is that any wine you enjoy will be okay with your charcuterie board. But, some wines work much better than others. Read on to learn which types of wines work best, when, and why.
P.S. If building a charcuterie board yourself seems too overwhelming, why not try a charcuterie of the month club instead? Many provide you with cured meat and possibly some cheese, while a few give you many more types of ingredients as well.
First of all, you’re never going to find a single wine that matches all ingredients on your charcuterie board. There are too many different textures and flavors at play for that.
Instead, you’re looking for wines that complement the main flavors of your board and don’t clash with anything.
Most of the time, this means you’re looking for light bodied whites, preferably those that are acidic, as the acidity cuts through the fat and salt from your cured meat and cheese.
If you prefer red wine instead, then light- to medium-bodied reds are the way to go. The lighter reds are particularly relevant if your charcuterie board focuses on mild flavors.
Here are some of the top wines to try.
Pinot noir is one of the best choices if you’re looking for a red wine, as it has a fairly light body and is fruity. These features mean that pinot noir is going to pair well with many charcuterie ingredients, including fresh cheeses, pate, and some cured meat.
When pairing with pinot noir, you’re looking for combinations that highlight the fruitiness of the wine without overpowering it. Because of this, pinot noir is best with entry-level charcuterie boards – ones that don’t include too many strong flavors.
Barbera is an interesting red wine. It offers some of the fruitiness that you find in pinot noir, along with plenty of acidity. The acidity is perfect if you’re serving this wine with fatty meats or creamy cheeses.
Barbera is also low in tannins, making this an extremely easy to drink red.
The catch is that barbera is a fairly gentle wine. Its flavor profile can easily be overpowered, especially if the ingredients on your charcuterie board are very sweet, bitter, or spicy.
Gamay is a delicious tasty red that offers more complexity that pinot noir or barbera. It’s a perfect choice when you want a red wine with a little more punch to it.
However, you need to be wise with this wine. It doesn’t pair well with mild charcuterie ingredients, as all the flavor nuances will simply get lost. You’re looking for charcuterie ingredients that carry a bit more punch instead, such as peppered salami and moderate chorizos.
We’ve highlighted a few red wines, so it’s time to talk about the whites. Most of the time, you’re looking for crisp white wines with decent acidity. These will complement the widest variety of foods, while offsetting the saltiness and fattiness of your charcuterie ingredients.
Sauvignon blanc is an easy choice here, as it is crisp, refreshing, and easy to find. The wine is particularly good when your charcuterie board features plenty of fresh cheese, including feta and mozzarella.
Sauvignon blanc isn’t limited to traditional charcuterie boards either. It’s also excellent for vegetarian and vegan boards, including those that include roasted vegetables.
In fact, sauvignon blanc is a fantastic go-to for most straightforward charcuterie boards. It might not be as exciting as some of the other wines on this list, but it makes up for that by being consistent. It’s also a board that many wineries excel at creating.
Riesling wines are almost as famous as sauvignon blanc. The two types are similar, although riesling tends to have a milder and more neutral flavor, while sauvignon blanc can be fairly intense.
Dry rieslings are particularly good, as these balance out the salt and fat from elsewhere on your board. Don’t be afraid to experiment, as we all vary in the flavor profiles and pairings we enjoy the most.
Pinot grigio is notable for its sweetness. It isn’t a dessert wine though. Instead, the perfect balance of sweetness and dryness gives you a white wine that pairs well with many dishes.
The wine goes best with charcuterie boards with some sweetness to them, like those that feature pears and white chocolate. The wine also works well with soft white cheeses and mild fatty meats.
Just be careful with the flavor profile of your charcuterie, as you don’t want to overwhelm the wine. Look for simple ingredients, ones that don’t have intense flavors.
If your charcuterie board has some spiciness to it, then a sweet wine can help to offset this. Pinot grigio can work well, as can a sweet chenin blanc.
A chenin blanc is particularly good if your board features light flavored ham or other types of delicate meat. This combination allows you to fully enjoy the complexity of the wine, while also appreciating the rest of the food.
Chardonnay is different than most white wines, as it has a complex and rich flavor profile, one that’s often described as being creamy or buttery. While the acidity of wines like sauvignon blanc works well on simple charcuterie boards, chardonnay is best reserved for more complex boards with rich flavors.
In particular, some charcuterie boards include aged cheeses, Spanish chorizo, black truffle salami, and blue cheese. These intense flavors would overwhelm most white wines, while chardonnay easily holds its own.
While we’re talking about rich wines, syrah is a more full bodied red that you can try. As with chardonnay, this wine is best with boards that include some rich flavors.
The combination of rich wine and a flavorful charcuterie board is a great way to make things more interesting. After all, mild charcuterie boards are incredibly common, so why not mix things up?
Cabernet sauvignon is another red to consider as well, in the same situations where you might try a chardonnay or a syrah.
Here too, the richness of cabernet sauvignon would easily overwhelm light charcuterie ingredients, particularly fresh cheeses and mild salamis. But, when you’re serving a flavorful charcuterie board, cabernet sauvignon has the body you need to support the richer ingredients.
Rather than serving red wine or white wine, why not feature rosé on your charcuterie board instead? Rosé works well, as it offers a fantastic balance of sweet and dry, while also providing plenty of fruity flavors.
Rosé also tends to be forgiving and works well with many different foods. This makes it an excellent choice if you really don’t know which wine to focus on.
The big issue is that rosé often isn’t made well. Too many rosés on the market end up being sub-par, where companies don’t seem to be putting as much effort into them as into their reds and wines.
If you’re going to serve rosé, it’s worth doing some research first. Try experimenting with a few different products to see which ones you enjoy the most. Doing so will ensure you’re not wasting everyone’s time.
On a side note, you don’t need to stick to regular rosé here. Alcohol free rosé can be an excellent part of your charcuterie board as well.
Sparkling White Wine
Let’s not forget about the bubbles. Sparkling wine is wonderful with charcuterie boards, as the bubbles are a perfect contrast to the fattiness and saltiness of your ingredients.
There’s also something elegant and exciting about serving a sparkling wine. Any type of sparkling white wine would work well, but prosecco is easily one of the best. This Italian sparkling wine is generally dry, although the fruitiness makes it seem sweeter than you might expect.
You could also go with champagne. This is a great way to make the occasion even more special, although it isn’t essential. The focus should be on the food anyway, so champagne may cost more than what you get out of it.
It’s hard to go wrong with a sparkling rosé. The wine generally has the same flavor notes as a still rosé, while the bubbles make the drink much more engaging.
Many sparkling rosés are on the sweet side, but you can also turn to a brut sparkling rosé. The drier nature of this wine works best if your charcuterie board has some sweetness to it, like if you’ve included sweet preserves or fresh fruit.
If you’re not keen on a brut sparkling rosé, no worries, a more traditional rosé is still delicious. It pairs well with many common charcuterie ingredients, including smoked meat and vibrant cheeses.
Tips For Pairing Your Wine And Charcuterie
You’ve probably already spotted some major challenges when choosing the best wine for your charcuterie board. The biggest is that you have many different ingredients on your board and just one type of wine.
And, you’ll probably find that all of the wines listed go with at least some items on your board. How do you choose? Here are a few approaches that can help.
You could first decide on the wine you want, say a pinot noir, then make all the charcuterie ingredients match that wine. But honestly, doing so doesn’t work well.
Focusing on the wine first like this will likely give you an unbalanced charcuterie board, where the flavors are too similar and there isn’t enough contrast between the ingredients.
Besides, if you’re serving a charcuterie board, the focus should be on the food. The wine is simply there to complement it.
So, start with your charcuterie board itself. Choose the ingredients that you’re interested in, including meats, cheeses, crackers, spreads, fruit, and more. You might even add some mushrooms and olives into the mix.
This one is crucial – try not to get too caught up in finding the best possible wine for your board. This is true for wine pairing in general too, as there isn’t a single answer.
Even if you narrow it down to a single type of wine, like pinot noir, there’s a huge amount of variety from one vineyard to the next (and even some variation between bottles within the same batch).
Trying to get it perfect is just an exercise in frustration. Sure, it’s worth spending a little time thinking about the wine, but then take a step back and allow yourself to enjoy whatever you’ve ended up with.
The wines we’ve highlighted all work well with charcuterie boards, but they’re hardly your only options. You can easily branch out, particularly if you look for wines similar to the ones we’ve talked about.
For example, pinot noir and gamay are both light-bodied red wines. There’s also grignolino, which is light and fruit forward. Corvina is another option. This wine is often bright red, with a light structure and minimal tannins.
The same is true for other wines we’ve discussed today too. They all have some similar styles out there, ones you could easily choose instead.
Most of the time, you’ll be serving a single type of wine with your charcuterie board. You might branch out and have one red wine and one white wine, but that’s normally it.
An alternative is to have a selection of different wines, then guests can experiment with how individual wines match the ingredients. Doing so might involve offering small tasting cups for the wine, rather than large wine glasses. If you’re serving the charcuterie board to a group, perhaps each member could bring a bottle of wine to join in the fun.
While this style won’t work well in every situation, it’s a nice alternative to trying to find a single type of wine that works well.
Choose Wines You Like
Above all else, always choose wines that you actually enjoy. So, if a sauvignon blanc is the best wine for your particular charcuterie board and you don’t like sauvignon blanc – don’t serve sauvignon blanc.
Seriously, choosing a wine that you don’t like is just a waste of energy. You’ll have a better experience if you love the wine in question, even if it doesn’t match the board quite as well.