Believe it or not, the holiday season is fast approaching. While it may not involve the same parties with extended friends and family we may be used to, the season is still the perfect excuse to treat yourself to some Oregon wine. Build yourself a charcuterie and cheese board that pairs well with wines from Oregon’s Tualatin Valley.
What is charcuterie?
This French word refers specifically to the prepared meats part of what is colloquially called a charcuterie board. Boards usually consist of cured meats, a variety of cheeses, pickled veggies, olives, nuts, fresh and/or dried fruit and crackers or bread.
Meat and cheese are the stars of the board. You want a variety of flavors and to consider texture, saltiness, fat content and acidity when it comes to cheese and meat. Choose wines that are more acidic than the food. Keep in mind that high fat foods pair well with bolder reds or crisp, acidic whites; spicy, bitter foods don’t go well with high tannin wines.
Charcuterie and cheese board pairing ideas
You can’t go wrong with the versatile Pinot Noir — the wine that put Oregon’s wine country on the map. It goes well with most things on a board, but is great if you pair it with soft, ripe cheese like Brie and Camembert or semi-hard cheese like Gouda, Swiss and Provolone. It also goes well with fatty pâté or pork charcuterie.
Riesling, sparkling wine and rose pair well with the saltiness of fresh cheeses like cream cheese, mozzarella, ricotta, feta and mascarpone. Mild meats like Prosciutto, summer sausage, salami or Mortadella also go well with these light-bodied red or white wines. The salt brings out the fruitiness and balances the acidity of the wine.
Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and other light-bodied white wines complement the acidity and tangy flavors of semi-soft cheeses like Asiago, Fontina and Havarti. Bold charcuterie like bresaola or black truffle salami also pair well with Chardonnay.
Sparkling wine, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon (light-bodied white, full bodied red) go well with hard cheese with salty, sharp and nutty flavors like cheddar or Parmigiano-Reggiano. The salt and age can soften the acidity of the white wine and mellow out the tannins in reds. These pair well with slightly spicy flavors of pastrami, peppered salami and smoked Prosciutto, which contrast with the fruit aromas in the wine.
The other stuff
Round out your board with bread, crackers, nuts and fruit to complement the cheese and meat spread. Avoid fresh citrus, which is too acidic to pair with most wines. Instead opt for fresh grapes, raspberries, blueberries or figs and dried fruit. Pickled vegetables and olives provide a salty bite that complement acidic or fruity wines. Other great additions to a charcuterie board are fruit spreads or jams, olive oil and honey.
Tualatin Valley is home to many markets that sell locally grown products that are perfect for any charcuterie board. Head to Helvetia Farm Market at Marion Acres or Blooming Junction for tasty local snacks. The Meating Place is a great stop for all your meat needs as well.