Wine & Cheese | The Perfect Pairing

boardmaking 101.jpg

When family and friends gather, meat and cheese boards are the perfect go-to for low stress entertaining. With pictures of beautiful and elaborate boards everywhere you look on the internet these days, cheese and charcuterie boards have been elevated to an art form. Don’t be intimidated, our 8 step guide will make you party ready in 15 minutes or less, so grab your platter, tray, or cheese board and let’s get started. Don’t have a platter? No worries, a cutting board or several dinner plates will work just fine, you’re going to cover it up anyway!

STEP 1: Cheese

Choose a variety of about 3-5 cheeses depending on the size of your surface and the size of your party.

Everything good in life starts with cheese! In picking your cheese make sure to consider different shapes, colors, flavors, and textures. Soft, crumbly, semi-soft, semi-hard, or hard cheese, displaying a mix of local and imported cheese creates dimension on the board and your palate. Arrange your cheese on the board as your anchor points, spacing them out on your “canvas.” When choosing your cheese, plan on at least 3-4 ounces of cheese per person and remember to give each cheese a small rough chop in a corner before serving. Not only does this give the board some texture but it also invites guests to cut in and nibble.

PRO TIP: Always have a cheese knife for each of the cheeses you are serving to ensure you’re not mixing bold and mild flavors. This is especially helpful if someone is not a fan of a stinky cheese.

On our board: Mimolette, Beecher’s Flagship, Boursin Shallot & Chive, Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs, and Harbison

STEP 2: Meat

Select 2-3 styles of charcuterie.

Again, try to mix up the textures to create aesthetics to your board. Pick salami, prosciutto, or other Italian meats. Don’t forget to try pork rillettes, which is savory, easy to spread and pairs well with a variety of crackers, bread and spicy mustards. Take your thinly sliced meats and fold them into little “nests” and place them next to your cheeses. Salami is ideal for small stacks to fan out between your cheeses.

PRO TIP: Assorted meat packs are a great way to save money while sampling a variety of charcuterie.

On our board: Prosciutto, Capocollo, black pepper coated dry salami, Italian dry salami

STEP 3: Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables add color while balancing out the richness of the meat and cheese. For a festive look, choose seasonal fruits like pomegranate seeds in the winter, roasted asparagus in the spring, fresh peaches or strawberries in the summer, and sliced pears or apples in the fall. Place the larger pieces of fruit, like grape clusters, figs, or pear and apple slices, in the bigger empty spaces on your board. Save dried and small fruits to scatter on the board with the nuts.

PRO TIP: Trim or cut your larger pieces of fruit or veggies to scale and tuck next to means and cheese.

On our board: Green grapes and fresh blackberries

STEP 4: Crackers, Crisps and Bread

Be sure to include a variety of crackers, bread or crisps that are somewhat neutral flavors as to not compete with the meat and cheese. Rice or almond flour crackers are typically easy to find and make a great option for gluten-free guests.

PRO TIP: For a rustic look, hand-tear your bread or baguette into small bite-size pieces.

On our Board: French Baguette and Almond Flour Crackers with Sea Salt

STEP 5: Condiments

Add flair to your board with condiments. Dips, mustards, jams, olives and assorted pickled veggies places in small ramekins of different sizes, shapes, and color creates another layer of dimension.

PRO TIP: Shop local home goods or antique stores for unique and colorful bowls or ramekins.

On our Board: Castelvetrano olives and roasted red peppers.

STEP 6: Nuts, Dried Fruit and Small Berries

Now it’s time to fill in any remaining gaps! Raw or roasted nuts, dried fruits, and small berries are great to counterbalance the salty meat and cheeses. Sprinkle them around the board for pops of color and texture.

PRO TIP: Mix it up - add chocolate covered nuts, fruit or berries for a sweet treat!

On our Board: Chocolate covered mixed fruits, Marcona almonds, dried apricots, and fresh blackberries.

STEP 7: Finishing Touches

While not essential, adding small fresh flowers or herbs to your board can act as the “pretty bow” on top. Cheese and charcuterie boards tend to be white, red and brown, so the flowers and herbs offer color and eye appeal. Tuck them in corners of the board, or in little nooks and crannies to help frame your board. You don’t need a bouquet, a few sprigs or flowers is perfect.

PRO TIP: Use fresh thyme or rosemary sprigs, arugula, fresh mint, or seasonal flowers

STEP 8: Wine

You can never go wrong pairing cheese and wine, and it’s always nice to have a variety of wine on hand. Chemistry Wines are balanced, approachable and elegant, reflecting the purity and depth of their Willamette Valley origins.

Chemistry Pinot Noir Rosé: Bright watermelon in color, our Rosé has aromatics of strawberry shortcake, vanilla cream and white nectarine that fill the nose. The palate is crisp with a richness that fills out the mid-palate with flavors of strawberry and peach.

Pairs well with a mild, delicate cheese such as Ricotta, Mozzarella, Burrata, Chèvre, Feta, Halloumi, Brie, Camembert, Brillat-Savarin, Crottin, Bûcheron.

Chemistry Pinot Gris: Glowing straw yellow in color, aromatic of citrus, papaya and wet stone leap out of the glass. Approachable, refreshing, and crisp, with a subtle richness that fills out the mid-palate.

Pairs well with cheeses that are sweet and salty, such as fresh mozzarella, Humbolt Fog Chèvre, Garrotxa, a firm textured goat cheese from Catalonia.

Chemistry Pinot Noir: Aromatics of plum and blueberry lead to a lush and juicy palate with silky tannins that build to a structured finish.

Pairs well with cheeses have a firmer texture and stronger flavors such as Havarti, Edam, Emmental, Gruyère, Jarlsberg, young Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Manchego, Tomme d'Alsace, as well as stinky cheeses such as Époisses, Taleggio, Morbier.

The most important thing to remember is to have fun and be creative! One of the best things about serving a cheese and charcuterie board is that it can be prepared ahead of time, which frees you up to enjoy your gathering. Cheers!

Mindy Gimarelli