There’s a reason wine and charcuterie boards are so popular: they are a match made in culinary heaven. Imagine platters decked with aged cheeses, salami, and nuts. It’s the ultimate balance of flavors and textures that make it a gastronomic delight at our tasting room. At Sequoia Grove, we craft a wide range of wines that pair perfectly with a variety of cheese, cured meats, and everything in-between. That’s why we’ve put together a useful guide to help you create your own scrumptious charcuterie board pairings. Once you’ve aced the basics below, you’ll be treating your tastebuds and friends for years to come.
The texture, fat, salt, and spice of all the delicious nibbles on a charcuterie board can help balance and soften the flavors of wine – and vice versa. Typically, the salty and savory flavors of cheese enhance the fruit aromas of sparkling and light-bodied white wines like Prosecco. Bright, acidic wines like Sauvignon Blanc cut through the richness of creamy cheese. Rich cured meat and nuts counterbalance the tannins in bold wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine betters food, food betters wine. You get the idea.
STEP 1: START WITH THE CHEESE
Buttery, salty, aged, or fresh – it won’t be a charcuterie board without copious amounts of delicious cheese. Different cheeses complement different wines. Choose a few cheeses from a variety of families to match the wine you want to serve:
Fresh cheeses have higher acidity.
Choose from: Ricotta, mozzarella, and chèvre (goat cheese).
Pair with: Acidic and light-bodied wines like bubbly, Rosé, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and even light and fruity reds like Pinot Noir and Grenache.
Soft-ripened or bloomy cheeses (a style covered with a white, downy rind) have a mild, buttery flavor and higher fat content.
Choose from: Brie, Camembert, Humboldt Fog, or goat’s cheese.
Pair with: Light and dry whites like sparkling wine and Rosé cut through the richness of the cheese. Full-bodied and fruity whites like unoaked Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc offer the weight and texture to match the cheese’s richness.
Semi-hard cheeses are mild in flavor.
Choose from: Gouda, Gruyère, Swiss, Emmental, and halloumi.
Pair with: Light to medium-bodied wines that offer the same amount of complexity and flavor. Look out for dry white wines like lightly oaked Chardonnay or medium reds like Cabernet Franc or Carignan. Soft and approachable reds like Merlot or Zinfandel won’t overpower the milder flavor of these cheeses.
Aged, hard cheeses are saltier and stronger in flavor.
Choose from: Aged Cheddar, Manchego, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, and Grana Padano.
Pair with: Fruity and light-bodied white wines like sparkling wine or medium to full-bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The saltiness in the cheese softens the acidity of whites and mellows out the tannins in reds.
Blue cheese is salty and pungent.
Choose from: Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Stilton.
Pair with: Fruity, sweet wine like Sherry, Riesling, and Port that balance the saltiness, or equally strong full-bodied whites and reds like Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel.
STEP 2: ADD SOME CHARCUTERIE
Charcuterie is a French term for prepared meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, ballotines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork. Depending on your taste preferences, charcuterie is graded from mild to bold, so try pairing your wine accordingly (i.e. a bold wine with bold charcuterie):
Mild charcuterie is super versatile.
Choose from: Prosciutto, mortadella, dry-cured salami, summer sausage, or chicken liver mousse.
Pair with: Sparkling wine, light-bodied or aromatic white wines, rosé wine, and light or medium-bodied reds.
Intermediate charcuterie is not too spicy or smoky.
Choose from: Speck (smoked prosciutto), guanciale, lardo, chorizo picante, coppa, pastrami, peppered salami, and foie gras.
Pair with: Fruity white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or medium-bodied reds like Cabernet Franc and Zinfandel.
Bold charcuterie has strong flavors.
Choose from: Bresaola, black truffle salami, and country pâté.
Pair with: Medium to full-bodied white wine like Chardonnay. Juicy and spicy reds like Malbec, Nebbiolo, or Syrah.
STEP 3: ADD OLIVES AND PICKLED VEGETABLES
Olives and certain pickled vegetables are especially delicious with higher acid or fruity wines. Pair your artichoke hearts, pickled cucumbers, and roasted, smoky peppers with wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, or Merlot. It’s always useful to have a couple of these in your food cupboard for when an impromptu celebration pops up.
STEP 4: CHOOSE THE BEST FRUIT AND NUTS
Fruit and nuts bring the perfect balance of salty and sweet to your charcuterie board. Choose fresh and seasonal fruit like grapes, berries, or figs – or try dried fruits like apricots or apples. When it comes to nuts, go nuts! Unsalted, salted, or candied nuts are all great additions. Think almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, and cashews.
STEP 5: DON’T FORGET THE OILS AND SPREADS
Olive oil is a must-have for bread. Fruit jams or preserves go well with creamy, tangy cheeses and salty mild charcuterie. Honey can be drizzled over piquant blue cheese and mustards are great with pâté. Introduce some Middle Eastern flavors with spreads like hummus, labneh, or Baba ghanoush.
STEP 6: OFFER A VARIETY OF BREAD
Sliced baguette, fresh ciabatta, homemade sourdough, toasted crostini, breadsticks, or multi-seed or rice crackers are just some of the hundreds of scrumptious options out there. Let your cheese and spread options guide your choice. See if you can add some gluten-free options to accommodate all your guests.
STEP 7: NOW PUT IT ALL TOGETHER, BEAUTIFULLY
1. Choose a flat surface like a wooden tray, cutting board, or platter.
2. Place small bowls in a triangle on your surface. Fill it with olives, spreads, and oils.
3. Cut your cheese into cubes or triangles and serve soft cheese with a cheese knife.
4. Fold your charcuterie (it looks impressive and is easier to pick up).
5. Arrange all your elements starting from around the small bowls and working outward.
6. Add some flair with fresh garnishes like edible flowers, fresh herbs, or microgreens.
• Keep it colorful. We eat with our eyes first.
• Variety is key. Cater to different palates with a selection of sweet and savory options.
• Texture! Keep it interesting with creamy, crunchy, gooey, and crumbly textures.
• Match flavors. Delicate wine goes well with a mild cheese. Bold wine pairs better with a strongly flavored cheese.
• Bring your cheese to room temperature for better flavor.
• Wines with high tannins (Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, and Syrah) will clash with anything sweet, spicy or bitter.
The Plant-Based Platter
This platter is perfect for vegetarians or health-conscious snackers.
• On the board: Halloumi, Emmental, cottage cheese, olive oil, hummus, sliced cucumber, celery sticks, grapes, fresh figs with a drizzle of maple syrup, pickled carrots, multi-seed crackers, pistachios, unsalted almonds, kale chips, dried apricot, and 95% cacao dark chocolate.
• In the glass: Pair it with our fruity and flavorful 2018 Napa Valley Chardonnay.
More is more!
• On the board: Brie, Grana Padano, aged Cheddar, gorgonzola, prosciutto-wrapped melon, peppered salami, bresaola, Dijon mustard, sliced pears, dill pickles, piquant pepper stuffed green olives, sliced chorizo, roasted peppers, toasted crostini, sliced baguette, liver pate, unsalted cashews, and grapes.
• In the glass: Pair it with our rich and complex 2016 Tonella Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
Ditch boring party platters and try this no-cook, impressive Mediterranean mezze platter.
• On the board: Camembert, Feta, bocconcini, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, basil pesto, fresh cherry tomatoes, olive tapenade, quarter-sliced pita bread, dolmades, marinated and sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, and bottled figs.
• In the glass: Pair it with our Provence-style 2021 Russian River Valley Rosé of Grenache.
A charcuterie board pairing brings together three things that we cherish here at Sequoia Grove: wine, food, and friends. Invite your nearest and dearest for the perfect blend of flavor and feasting. Not in the mood for hosting? You’re always welcome at Sequoia Grove. Come visit us for a fuss-free pairing.