By: Anya Murphy
We’ve all been there: plans come up last minute, sneak up on you and there’s no time to prepare, or you’re trying to put an event together as quickly as you can. We all love a charcuterie board in a pinch – they’re a fast and easy appetizer to throw out for guests (and they look cute, too!). On the other hand, they can get complicated quickly. There’s definitely a difference between tossing some meats and cheeses on a plate and a full Pinterest-worthy work of culinary art. Bringing wine pairings into the equation just makes it more and more difficult, especially if you don’t have time to dedicate to exploring your guests’ preferences.
So, forget boutique cheese shops and specialty butchers – hit the grocery store with this guide and pick some delicious and crowd-pleasing ingredients right off the shelf, minimal cooking required. When you’re down-to-the-wire event planning, use this guide to put together a beautiful and tasty charcuterie board that goes perfectly with the Ladies of Leisure bottle on your shelf.
Board No. 1: The Sexy Sauv Board
Sauvignon Blanc is such a versatile wine to work with when choosing pairings. It loves other smooth flavors with pops of color: Gouda, Havarti, Parmesan, and Swiss have the tangy flavor of an aged cheese, but they’re still creamy and wonderful. Pick your favorite salty snack crackers or even pretzels to compliment the smooth cheeses and add some texture to your bite.
For a meat, prosciutto is a safe bet to go with your Sauv Blanc. Pear, peach, or nectarine wraps are a unique way to present a charcuterie meat that your guests will adore. The crisp fruits pair with the fruit flavors present in Sexy Sauv, creating a sweet and savory blend with the prosciutto. Prosciutto is a mild meat, almost melty in texture, and its saltiness will make the sweeter notes in the Sauv pop.
The recipe is simple and easy; it seriously takes 5 minutes! Just wrap the thinly sliced prosciutto, which you can usually find prepackaged but is also available at most deli counters, around the wedge of whatever fruit you pick and secure with a festive toothpick!
Spicy honey mustard and rosemary crackers are another fantastic Sauv pairing, with a spicy-sweet balance that bounces off the savory of the prosciutto wraps and brings out the acidity in the wine. Spicy honey mustard is a recent discovery and it will clear your sinuses if you’re not careful and take too much! Again, this is something you can grab off the shelf at the grocery store near you; otherwise, it’s as simple as adding a hot sauce or even horseradish to a mixture of honey and Dijon mustard. Follow your tastebuds, but don’t be afraid of some spice! I like a good rosemary cracker to dip. It will bring out the herbal flavors of the wine and helps to calm some of the spice in the sauce. Any of the good Sauv Blanc cheeses from before will round out the bite if you want them, but it’s also yummy without.
Board No. 2: The Zero F’s Given Board
Rosé is the perfect wine to pair with your favorite fresh cheeses, like feta, goat cheese, and mozzarella. The light flavors in the cheese fit well with the silky tones you’ll find in the rose, and, because they’re softer cheeses, they leave a milder impact on the palate that won’t overwhelm the delicate wine.
Pesto caprese skewers are such a good pairing that will bring all the best flavors out of Zero F’s Given. They’re a delish savory choice: bite-size tomatoes and tiny mozzarella balls on skewers, drizzled with pesto. They’re a new, imaginative twist on the traditional caprese: instead of basil and balsamic glaze, it uses pesto for its nutty flavors. The herbal pesto and creamy mozzarella balance out the acidic flavors in wine and make the smoothness shine. For a wine as light as rose, mozzarella is the cheese pairing proof that opposites attract: heavy cheese is just the satisfying bite you need when drinking rosé.
This recipe is super easy again, exactly like last time. Just skewer the cheese and tomatoes and drizzle on your pesto. The little mozzarella balls are almost always in the cheese section, and usually come with herbs or without. It’s up to you! For tomatoes, I usually go with grape or cherry since they’re the best bite size. Picking heirloom varieties can make the skewers extra beautiful, too!
Strawberries and chocolate hummus are a fantastic sweeter pairing option, since everyone knows chocolate and wine are the ultimate besties. Strawberries draw out the sharp fruit flavors in rose, and chocolate brings in the smooth sweetness. It’s also such a cute and festive pairing to display, with the red berries and pink wine.
This one shouldn’t even count as a recipe, it’s so simple: Sabra’s chocolate hummus is delicious, and strawberries are about to come into season for summer. If you have time, spread the hummus around in a cute serving bowl or on a plate and sprinkle some diced berries on top. You could even go for freeze-dried berries if you can find them! For this, since your guests will be dipping, it’s a good idea to cut the berries into more of a slice or chip shape so they get the perfect scoop every time.
Board No. 3: The Racy Red Board
You can go a little bolder when pairing with red wines than whites or roses. Deeper flavors are its best pairing: white cheddar is my favorite cheese to go with red wines. (If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, go for the Unexpected Cheddar. Trust me.) For a meat, salami is a crowd favorite charcuterie pairing for red wines and goes so well with cheddar.
To make the spread really pretty, I like to arrange the salami slices in patterns. You can make a “salami rose” by layering staggered pieces around the rim of a wine glass, then placing it upside down on the board. If you’ve done it right, it should look a little bit like a rose! You could also do a “salami river” but folding the pieces into quarters and wedging them into each other. Either way, the salty flavors of both cheese and meat should contrast beautifully with the cherry and blackberry flavors in Racy Red.
Grapes and dried cranberries are the prefect little snack bites that can cut through all the heaviness of the tannic wine and sharp cheese with sweetness and acid. They’re super easy to just throw into a bowl on your board and are definitely a crowd-pleaser. They’ll also go well with the cheese and meat since they’re going to give you some lighter flavors on this board. This is flexible, too: any pairing of fresh and dried fruit is good. If you choose based on what’s in season, you’ll wind up with the most flavorful board. Apples would be a great choice, as would dried apricots. If you have nuts around, that’s also a great idea!
Spinach and artichoke dip is my favorite dip of all time and can be a heartier and more filling bite for your board without the need to spend hours cooking. It’s easy to grab off the shelf from the pre-made section at any grocery store and heat up at home. Honestly, the one from Walmart is like… really good. I eat it with pita chips or tortilla chips, but it’s versatile enough that you can use whatever you have in your cabinet. It’s savory, smooth, and creamy, and hits that perfect balance with Racy Red.