July 26, 2019

The History of Charcuterie Boards and Why You Should Drink Wine With Them

Who doesn’t like a good charcuterie board? These fancy platters are filled with assorted cured meats, mild and creamy cheeses, various nuts, and sweet spread and jams. Charcuterie boards are perfect for dining with a group who has a range of tastes, and when catering for a large party. But to really make the most of this appetizer, pair your charcuterie board with wine, and you’ll have a winning combination!

What is a Charcuterie Board?

Charcuterie boards, also called charcuterie, are not a new thing. They have been around for hundreds of years. It was only until recently that America got caught up in the trend.

Charcuterie refers to the elaborate preparation and assembly of cured meats and other meat items. More recently, the term is used for an array of meats that are paired with a variety of accompaniments, such as fruit, cheese, crackers, toast, sauces, nuts, and so on.

As one of the best fine-dining restaurants that offers charcuterie on the menu, we understand exactly what goes into its assemblage. But before we get to the here and now, here’s a little bit of a history lesson.

The Origin and History of Charcuterie

Charcuterie is derived from the French words for flesh (chair) and cooked (cuit). The practice of salting and smoking meats to preserve them dates back about 6,000 years to ancient Rome. Charcuterie is rooted in the belief that nothing from the animal should be wasted; not even the heart, lungs, kidneys, fat, or brain.

The word was used to describe shops in 15th century France that sold products that were made from pork, including the pig’s internal organs. The French created the charcuterie board using offal and other kinds of meat. However, the traditional charcuterie board has come a long way and is becoming increasingly popular in modern fine-dine restaurant menus. 

What’s Included in These Boards?

A typical charcuterie board consists of mainly meats and cheeses. But at many restaurants or house parties, it’s common that these boards include bread, fruits, nuts, condiments such as honey or mustard, pickles, and olives.

Many of the common meats that are considered to be charcuterie include capicola, salami, and prosciutto. Dry-cured chorizo and mortadella are also regularly-used meats in terms of charcuterie.

Cheese is all about preference. It comes down to what pairs better with the meat on your platter. A typical board has a variety of different cheeses.

Some of the best types of cheese include:

  • Hard cheese: These include parmesan and asiago.
  • Firm cheese: Try colby, comte, and manchego.
  • Semi-soft cheese: Get your hands on some Havarti and muenster.
  • Soft cheese: These are favorites, such as burrata, stracchino, and mascarpone.
  • Blue cheese: These include gorgonzola, marbled blue jack, and dunbarton blue.
  • Crumbly cheese: Go for goat cheese and feta.

Aged cheddar or aged gouda are also popular choices. So are cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano or gruyere. There should always be contrasting cheeses so each bite can have a different flavor profile to it.

Charcuterie Board with Wine: The Golden Couple

Eating charcuterie typically involves drinking some type of alcohol with it, usually wine. A simple reason is that it’s great for many people in one setting, whether it be a party or out at a restaurant. Secondly, many wines go well with it. Yes, that’s a really broad statement, but it’s true.

Having said that, many people think choosing the right wine with a charcuterie board is rocket science. But it really isn’t. Salty meats such as prosciutto go well with chilled, sparkling wines. That is because they are low in alcohol content, high in acid, and a little sweet to balance out the saltiness. Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir would be great choices. Historically, full-bodied red wines, like Merlot or Cabernet Fran, are commonly paired with charcuterie.

Spicier meats go well with sweeter wines as the sugar in the wine can counteract the spice, while creating a whirlpool of flavors. And if your board includes creamy cheese, foie gras, Iberian ham, and other fatty dishes, you’ll do well to pair them with acidic wine for the perfect balance. The acid will cut through the fat while giving the morsel a slight lift.

Here are a few wines that accompany a variety of charcuterie and cheese combinations.

  • Riesling complements meats that have sweet, spicy flavors. These include sopressatta and coppa.
  • You may want to try Cru Beaujolais with red and blue fruits and crunchy acidic items. This wine has a lighter body and can make for a versatile accompaniment.
  • We recommend Barbaresco with cured meats and piquant cheeses. They pair extremely well and will certainly please your tastebuds. 

So, the next time you order wine with a charcuterie board, do keep these tidbits in mind.

Uncork a Bottle Today!

It’s time to treat your palette to a charcuterie board with wine! Come on down to Cork Restaurant today to try delicious food paired with some of the best wines in Northeast Pennsylvania. Reserve your table today!