‘Tis the season for gathering, sharing and indulging in fine foods and wine. While in the spirit of bringing friends and loved ones together, consider a charcuterie board, filled with hand-selected meats, cheeses and other tasty treats, visually arranged to make every guest feel like the holidays have truly arrived.
Traditionally, fruits, crackers, meats, chutneys and even fresh herbs all come together to create the perfect visual focus on the table, but the crowning jewel of the best charcuterie boards is, of course, the cheese. From classic cheddar to creamy gouda, a mix of cheeses brings the ultimate delight and decadence to any board, especially when the selection represents a range of textures, flavours and maturity.
Of course, the best way to highlight cheese’s diversity is with the perfect wine. Vancouver Magazine asked our friends at Principle Fine Wines for suggestions on what cheeses help build the perfect charcuterie board and pair well with two time-honoured classics—the Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Fumé Blanc. What they came up with will make your charcuterie board experience legendary.
Creating a Visually Stunning Charcuterie
Preparing a crowd-pleasing charcuterie begins with great presentation. Principle Fine Wines Master of Wine, Elsa Macdonald, suggests featuring items like small clementine oranges with stems attached or fresh figs sliced to show the core.
“Matching ‘patterned’ cheese and crackers—both have flecks of contrasting colours—satisfies the idea that we first eat with our eyes,” she says. “Worry less about the rules of how things ‘go together’ and select items that simply bring you delight.”
Other classic favourites include olives, berries, meats and crackers, and dips, jellies and chutney bring a range of textures to the arrangement. Include warm, cold, and fresh ingredients, but because cheese is the single essential item, its range, and the wines it pairs with, should remain the focus.
Pairing with Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
When pairing cheese with the Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, consider hard cheeses with some maturity (but not crumbly). The concentration gained through the maturation process of the cheese can balance the marked intensity of this wine. Also consider a cheese with a slight saltiness.
“Some salinity will soften the wine’s tannins and bring the fruit character to the forefront,” Macdonald says. “A cheese with a nutty character will emphasize a wine’s well-integrated elements of toast and cedar derived from extended barrel ageing.”
Her top suggestions include:
- Asiago – a hard cheese somewhat resembling Parmesan but intended for eating rather than seasoning. At 12-18 months, asiago will be rich in flavour and salty. A little goes a long way!
- Gouda style cheeses
- Beemster – dense, cream-driven cheese with hints of caramel and nuts
- Apenzeller – for a fresher style of hard cheese
- Old Cheddar – an old favourite that is hard to beat, old cheddar—aged two to three years—is the perfect choice for its combination of creamy flavour concentration, salinity and satisfyingly firm texture
- Blue cheese – adds colour to your cheeseboard and is considered a ‘must have’ by some cheese lovers. Note that a mellow, creamy version will work better since more pungent versions can make the wine seem sharp.
- Beyond cheese – consider dark chocolate, roasted walnuts or an array of savoury, well balanced chutneys (nothing overly sweet or vinegary).
PAIRING WITH ROBERT MONDAVI NAPA VALLEY FUMÉ BLANC
When considering cheese options to serve with Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Fumé Blanc, consider something with a similar level of flavour intensity, some saltiness and a somewhat firm texture. While youthful, simpler versions of Sauvignon Blanc are typically paired with a fresh, soft goat’s cheese, the richer style of the Napa Valley Fumé Blanc can handle a goat cheese with some ageing. Macdonald suggests three to four weeks.
“The cheese maturation increases the depth of flavour and creates a firmer texture, which helps one appreciate the wine flavour since they can sit on your palate at the same time,” she says.
Here are some perfect choices for a Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Fumé Blanc-ready charcuterie board:
- Goat cheese – Chabichou is a round, tall goat’s cheese and Saint-Pierre is that beautiful pyramid shape. Many other Loire Valley goat’s cheeses will work if you look for examples with three to four weeks ageing.
- Tuscan Pecorino (sheep’s milk) – choose one with a hay/honey rind to highlight the grassy and fruity character of the cheese.
- Gouda – six to twelve months of ageing underscores the creaminess of the wine
- Cheddar – lovers of this classic could also try a Wenslydale
Master your charcuterie board by pairing your favourite cheeses with the Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Valley Fumé Blanc. Purchase your Robert Mondavi wines at Everything Wine, BCLiquor and other select wine shops this holiday season.
Looking for the perfect charcuterie recipe that let's your wine and cheese pairings shine? Create a Legendary Charcuterie here >>