Date published

August 21, 2023

Wine and cheese are natural pairs. Getting together over a glass of wine, and having something to nibble on that’s light and tasty, salty and creamy is a great way to pass a Sunday afternoon (or to enjoy as a light dinner!). This holiday season, why not enjoy a low key glass of wine and a charcuterie board, whether on your own, or with some members of your social bubble?

How to choose your charcuterie

When you’re thinking about what to place on your charcuterie board to match with wine pairings, there are few broad rules to follow to make sure that it’s a hit. Fortunately, the salty hit from a lot of popular charcuterie selections will be a great match with most wines.

“Salt is a flavour component that compliments the fruity quality of wine and mellows out the astringency,” explains Kevin Schorath, Sommelier Coordinator, Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer. “Wines that have higher acidity and higher tannins will also pair well with meats that have a higher fat content such as prosciutto.”

Finding cheeses to compliment a wine is the bigger challenge when it comes to pairing properly, says Schorath, noting the best rule of thumb is, ‘if it grows together, it goes together’.

When sourcing cheeses for your board, Schorath recommends looking at where the cheeses are from, or where a particular style of cheese is originally from, and you’ll be able to find a wine that will pair well. Cheeses with higher fat content will need wines with bigger tannin structure if you’re choosing a red wine, or higher acidity levels if you’re choosing a white. This helps cut through the richness of the cheese and compliment the flavour profile.

While you can and should choose whatever meats and cheeses you prefer, there are a few selections that make a dynamite charcuterie board:

Start with a variety of meats

An ideal charcuterie board has something for everyone. If you’re opting this time for individually portioned boards or plates to keep contact at bay, you’ll still want to have some variety. A dry cured salami, and a spicy salami give two saltier options. A nice smoked ham or a delicate roast beef are both popular. Italian hams like prosciutto or Spanish Jamon Serrano are also delicate and decadent selections (and each would be perfect with a wine from the respective region).

Mix in cheeses

When it comes to cheeses, think about covering all the flavour categories: choose a creamy cheese like a Brie or Camembert, a tangy Blue, a smoky cheese like a smoked gouda or edam, and something familiar but fun like and extra aged cheddar.

“Adding a Manchego cheese to the board will be paired beautifully with a wine that is dominant in Grenache/Garnacha. Parmesan pairs incredibly well with Italian wines with high tannin structures. Look for an Italian Chianti Classico, a wine made from the grapes Aglianico, Nero d’Avola or Montepulciano. A few other pairings that are sure to be a hit are Gruyere and Pinot Noir, Blue Cheese and Port Wine, aged Cheddar Cheese and Cabernet Sauvignon, Brie and sparkling wine, or Gouda and Malbec,” Schorath recommends.

Don’t forget to round out your charcuterie board with jams or jellies, fresh honey (drizzled over Brie it’s divine!) and some nuts, plus crackers or flatbreads.

Open with some bubbly

A nice way to start off any holiday gathering is with a glass of champagne, prosecco, brut or other sparkling wine since the pop of that cork sets the festive tone. Look for Cuvee Grand Esprit Marquis de La Mystèriale Champagne if you want one of our favourite suggestions.

By the way, if you’re still searching for the ideal gift for the wine lover in your life, ask about Co-op’s Vin Bin Program.

Vin Bin is a program that’s unique and exclusive to Co-op that works with you (or your gift recipient!) to select specific wines that are perfect each month. You choose the nearest store location, and a locked cabinet is set aside inside the store.

The Vin Bin member meets with Co-op’s wine experts—trained sommeliers who will ask about tastes, preferences and interests with respect to wine. Once they get an idea of your recipient’s wine personality, they hand-pick a selection of wines just for them each month. It’s truly a gift they can enjoy year-round.