Cheese boards, Party platters and grazing tables at an upscale level
When it comes to entertaining, a charcuterie board is a centerpiece for hosts and a favorite for guests. "Charcuterie" refers to a range of different cured meats, that go beyond salami and prosciutto. Charcuterie also features various cheeses, crackers, spreads and produce. What exactly makes Wine and Charcuterie so popular? Well, they're extremely customizable: you can adjust the ingredients for different events and taste. You can easily scale the portions up or down based on the number of guests. Make them work with pretty well any budget and event theme.
Great Charcuterie boards are paired with fine wines and can be adapted to any season of the year. But perhaps the main reason is that they require zero culinary skills to assemble. Sure, there's an art to making a charcuterie board look as impressive as the ones you've seen all over Instagram and Pinterest. Don't worry—we're here to give you some wow-worthy charcuterie board ideas for your next gathering or holiday party.
Wine and Charcuterie is all about pairing a delicious charcuterie board with some wine for an easy executable menu your family and friends are going to enjoy. Your cheese board will serve as a light appetizer.
BASICS OF A CHARCUTERIE BOARD:
• Bread or crackers in a range of textures from crunchy to crisp
• Cured meats (appetizer portion: 2-4 oz/light meal portion: 5-6 oz) – salami, prosciutto, chicken liver mousse, pork rillette, and soppressata are good options
• Cheese – brie, burrata, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, sharp cheddar, goat cheese, and pepper jack are popular choices
• Olives, pickles, artichokes
• Nuts – almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc
• Dried or fresh fruit and vegetables
• Jelly, jam, and/or honey
• Dips/sauces like hummus, olive oil, etc.
Sparkling wine and Champagne are the best types of wine to pair with charcuterie because they are lower in alcohol and higher in acidity, making them the ideal compliment for the salty characteristics of charcuterie boards. If you decide to pair a red wine with your charcuterie board, seek a wine that has lower tannins and alcohol volume. Alternatively, if you have a specific wine in mind, adjust the selection of cheeses you place on your charcuterie board. For example, Cheddar and Gouda are a good pair with Cabernet Sauvignon. If the wine you’d like to serve is older, pair with an old/firm cheese.
It originated as a French tradition, charcuterie (pronounced "shahr-ku-tuh-ree") is the art of preparing and assembling finely crafted, cured meats and cheese products. The chef that prepares the meat is called a Charcutier. The charcuterie concept has become very popular outside of France, and has evolved to include a variety of foods besides just meat and cheese. In essence, a charcuterie board is an assortment of artisan dips, spreads, breads, olives and accompaniments, all delicately arranged on a serving board. Whether you call it a charcuterie plate or a charcuterie board, it’s easy to make when you start with quality smoked, cured meats. The perfect charcuterie plate will contain at least 3 to 5 types of charcuterie representing different styles and textures, plus something acidic, like pickles, and something sweet like fruit chutney to complement the flavors. Nuts, fresh and dried fruits, breads and crackers also make great accompaniments. A charcuterie plate is perfect for entertaining, cocktail hour bites, and even for convenient and satisfying snacking. Because charcuterie is ready-to-eat, making a visually stunning plate is easy.
In the first century AD, the Romans may have been the first to regulate charcuterie as a trade. The French have also had some influence and local guilds regulated tradesmen in the food production industry. The guilds that produced charcuterie were those of the charcutiers. The members of this guild produced a traditional range of cooked or salted and dried meats, which varied, sometimes distinctively, from region to region. The only "raw" meat the charcutiers were allowed to sell was unrendered lard. The charcutier prepared numerous items, including pâtés, rillettes, sausages, bacon, trotters, and head cheese (brawn). These preservation methods ensured the meats would have longer shelf lives. The original concepts of the Charcuterie are still present in most fine charcuterie boards. Traditional Charcuteries also provided sophisticated spreads. Here are some classic french spreads:
Pâté and terrine are very similar: The term pâté means paste in french. Pate’s are very popular in most sophisticated charcuteries’ as a spread for artisan breads, toast or even crackers. It is traditionally made using duck or chicken liver, mixed with wine and spices until it's cooked down into a spreadable texture.
Rillettes are slow-cooked meat that is pulled or shredded. This french specialty is similar to a pate but with a coarser texture. This charcuterie item is traditionally cooked from rabbit, goose, and/or duck. Rillettes are served cold or at room temperature as a spread for artisan bread or toast.
Mousse is very similar to a Pate or Rillettes, but the main difference is that it has a much smoother, lighter consistency that is similar to pate. The most popular mousse is made from chicken liver, which is often prepared with spices, cream, and a touch of wine. It’s served cold and tastes great on toast or even pieces of fruit.
What started out as a branch of cooking that involved prepared meats, has now evolved into what’s known as the shared platter or even grazing. Charcuteries around the world have transformed into an artform and is usually the centerpiece of conversation at most social gatherings. That is the beauty of the Charcuterie experience - it is whatever you would like it to be. Many people mix traditional charcuterie items with modern day twists.
Today you can find charcuteries with a Italian, Mediterranean or even Mexican perspective. It is not uncommon to find bruschetta, hummus and salsa spreads at get-togethers. This is probably why charcuterie experiences have become popular around the world. Characterized by its ability to adapt to any culture and suite any event.