If you’ve ever been out to a wine bar or one of our private cavern tastings, you’ve likely experienced pairing wine with charcuterie, which is a fancy word for cold, cured meats that provide contrasting flavors to the wine and enhance the overall tasting experience. If you’re hosting a get-together, serving a board of charcuterie with your drinks can also be a great way to impress guests and add an extra touch to your event. That’s all well and good, but how do you know what meats to pick without the winemaker there? Below is a quick guide to charcuterie to help you pick out your charcuterie board, whether it’s for home enjoyment or while out and wine tasting.
Let’s start with whole muscle meat cuts. These meats are cured, thinly sliced and are traditionally forms of beef and pork:
Prosciutto- This Italian meat is cured, dried pig thigh that has been aged for 24 months. It is known for being paper thin and having a salty texture.
Speck- The heavily smoked cousin to prosciutto is also thinly sliced ham. However, it has been deboned, flattened and spiced before it is dry-cured and smoked.
Coppa- Similar to prosciutto and speck, coppa is thinly sliced and dry-cured. Unlike other hams, coppa is not brined and aged is up to 6 months.
Serrano Ham- The Spanish version of prosciutto, serrano ham is named “mountain” ham due to the elevation where the landrace white pig is cured.
Jamon Iberico- This more expensive relative of serrano ham is hand carved black iberian pig and often confused with serrano.
Bresaola- If you’re looking to add some beef to your plate, try bresaola. It is salted and air dried, served very thin and pairs well with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon and shaved parmesan.
After you have selected at least one whole muscle cut it is time to add some cured sausage to the platter:
Chorizo- Known for its spice, this cured pork sausage is full of paprika and salt flavors.
Salami- Typically a beef or pork cured sausage, salami is ground meat and fat mixed with salt, spices and garlic. It is later packed, salted, cured and air-dried.
Sopressata- This beef or pork sausage is a drier variation of salami.
Mortadella- The nutty flavors of mortadella include whole pistachios and berries. You may be familiar with this product, as it is known as bologna sausage in the U.S.
Kulen- If you want to try something Eastern European, kulen sausage is heavily smoked, with strong flavors of garlic and paprika.
Nduja- While not quite a pâté, this Italian sausage is spreadable and has similar flavors to salami with the added taste of roasted red peppers.
The final essential meats on a charcuterie board are the spreadable options:
Pâté- This creamy and soft mixture of meat, fat, and pork or chicken liver is cooked with spices and brings a different flavor and texture that may be missing from your platter.
Terrine- The chunkier version of pâté has similar flavors and is best served cold.
Rillettes- Unlike pâté, rillettes are made from a single animal. It is smoother and has been slow cooked in fat, cooled and mixed with more fat making it spreadable and rich.
While a plate of meat is certainly plenty, add some cheese to mix up the texture and have less salty items.
Ubriaco- This “drunk” cheese is macerated in a wine press in juice from crushed grapes. It is best served as crumbles or shavings.
Sotto Bosco- The creamy and nutty mouthfeel of the goat’s and cow’s milk cheese mixed with black truffle is savory without being overly salty.
To complete your charcuterie platter add a sliced baguette, knives for spreading and some olives and peppers for a tangy and sweet flavor to brighten up the heavy proteins. If you’re wondering what wine to serve with your creation, try a young fruity red such as Barbera, whose round berry and licorice flavors pair well with cured meats. Another young wine packed with flavor is, Tempranillo. This wine has simple flavors and is a sweet red that highlights the salty flavors of the meat. If you are looking for a white, try a light a Sauvignon Blanc to cut the richness of the meal.
Now you’re all set to create the perfect charcuterie platter. Cheers!