T’is the season to spend a lot of time peeling, chopping, sautéing, roasting, carving, and more. Well, one recent night, we were ready for a break from holiday kitchen duty, so we bought some good charcuterie, invited a couple of
neighbors over, and opened some bottles of wine. It turned out to be a wonderful way to spend a relaxing and effortless evening, filled with good conversation and almost no prep work other than setting out plates and glasses and arranging the charcuterie on a board. We made a simple green salad with a few veggies added to it for color and crunch, and then passed around a plateful of cookies at the end of the evening. I think it’s fair to say that a good time was had by all.
If you have access to a good deli or specialty store the options are numerous. We indulged in two different kinds of ham (French Jambon de Bayonne and a German Black Forest Ham), along with thinly cut salami and a chunk of pâté. Other tasty choices might have been Prosciutto, Soppressata, N’duja, Mortadella, and/or Chorizo. Good mustard (ideally Dijon) is a requisite, along with a baguette and some excellent, generally unsalted butter. And although we were concentrating on charcuterie for this occasion, a cheese platter is always a popular addition to this sort of informal revelry.
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All sorts of wines pair satisfactorily with charcuterie, but we found that the best were light-bodied reds and crisp whites. The least successful, regardless of color, showed notable new oak. These made the otherwise flavorful meats taste dull, while the suppler wines brought out the rich earthy flavors. In this regard, the cured meats performed completely unlike roasts, steaks, or chops, which tend to need richer, fuller-bodied wines in order to show their best.
More recipes and wine pairings: Wine With...