Charcuterie Board Essentials and Wine Pairings

Whether you’re making a charcuterie board for a party, a shower, or just because, make it beautiful and tasty with the help of our guide below! Learn about the staples to include on your charcuterie board, how to assemble a beautiful board with a variety of options, the best wines to pair with your board, and find information about our upcoming charcuterie board workshop and local charcuterie companies you can support in North Carolina.

Staples

Bread/Crackers
Add a variety of breads or crackers to your board ranging in different textures. Consider your favorite crunchy crackers and crisp breads that will balance the meats and cheeses you decide on.

Cured Meats
The amount of cured meats you include will vary depending on whether the charcuterie board is designed to be an appetizer or a light meal. If going for an appetizer, consider 2-4 ounces per person. If planning on a light meal, go with a more substantial 5-6 ounces of cured meats per person. A variety of meats work well for charcuterie boards, including salami, prosciutto, pork rillette, and soppressata.

Cheese
When we think of a charcuterie board, many of us go right to cheese. Brie, burrata, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, sharp cheddar, goat cheese, and pepper jack are all popular choices.

Nuts
Nuts provide a good balance to the prior staples, but keep your guests in mind. If you’re simply putting together a small charcuterie board to share between a handful of friends and no one has nut allergies, nuts can be a great addition. You may choose to leave them off for parties or showers. Almonds, cashews, and pistachios all make great options.

Spreads
Consider adding a small dish of jelly, jam, and/or honey with a serving spoon. You can use just about any jam or jelly you enjoy most. They add so much flavor to any cheese, especially brie.

Dips/Sauces
Dips and sauces like hummus and olive oil can go a long way. Consider a homemade hummus recipe depending on the season.

Others
Dried or fresh fruit and vegetables can freshen and lighten up the charcuterie board, not to mention add some vibrant color. Consider adding local olives, pickles, and artichokes for that farm-fresh feeling, and have fun adding fresh herbs for decoration!

Make It Your Own

One of the best features of a charcuterie board is you can personalize them to your heart’s content. If you’re a vegetarian, leave out the meat. If you’re making one in the summer with easy access to fresh produce, work those in. You can customize your charcuterie board based on the season or holiday, going lighter in the spring/summer months and heartier in the fall and winter. Themed charcuterie boards are also becoming popular. For example, a Greek-inspired board that uses feta cheese, salami, toasted pita bread, and olives as the staples. There is no wrong way to build a charcuterie board if it is filled with your favorites!

How to Assemble

To assemble your charcuterie board, first, be sure to season your board or tray with oil or beeswax. If the serving tray you are using is not food safe, lay down some parchment paper.

Next, place your small bowls filled with liquids, such as olive oil, jams, or honey.

Add your sliced meats and cheeses and then arrange your fresh and/or dried fruits and vegetables. Be sure you remove all packaging such as casing, plastic, or twine prior to cutting and serving.

Surround the board with bread and crackers. Try not to leave any blank spots so that your board looks full of options and appealing to your guests.

Lastly, fill empty spaces with rosemary sprigs, sage, and other herbs/edible flowers. Also, be sure to add silverware such as cheese knives and spoons for your dips.

To keep things as fresh as possible, do not slice and assemble your charcuterie board more than 1-2 hours before serving.

Wine Pairings

Sparkling Wines
Sparkling wine is a great type of wine to pair with a charcuterie because they are lower in alcohol and higher in acidity, making them the perfect complement for the salty nature of charcuterie boards.

Fizzzy Bluzberry
Aromas of spiked fresh blueberries are followed by a fruity fizzy thirst enticing, balanced and refreshing experience. Try it poured over ice and garnished with a skewer of fresh blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry.

Fizzzy Rosé
Mango, honeydew melon and fresh cut flower aromas introduce the RayLen Fizzzy Rosé. Blushed by Petit Verdot, the flavors are generous and plenty. Strawberry and white peach dominate the bold flavors that are highlighted by bright bubbles and a clean fresh fruit finish.

Red Wines
Light- to medium-bodied red wines with firm structure, like Cabernet Franc are always a safe choice for charcuterie boards. The wine’s bright acidity and fresh berry flavors work together to cut through any fatty offerings and creamy textures.

If you decide to pair a red wine with your charcuterie board, look for a wine that is lower in tannins and alcohol.

Alternatively, if you have a specific wine in mind, adjust the selection of cheeses you offer. For example, gouda and cheddar are a good pair with Cabernet Sauvignon. If the wine you’d like to serve is older, pair with an old/firm cheese.

2019 Cabernet Franc
The 2019 Cabernet Franc is a claret-style wine with a bright garnet red hue. It reveals mocha cherry fruit flavors, followed by floral violet undertones. Seasoned oak allows the fruit tannins to glide softly and are pronounced in the finish.

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon
Aged for nine months in French oak, RayLen’s Cabernet Sauvignon is rich in flavor and body.  Luscious tones of leather and tobacco are followed on the palate by cherry and baking spices.

White Wines
Layers of smoky and spicy flavors are the foundation of many charcuterie boards. White wines with vibrant acidity and vivid fruit flavors like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Chardonnay are a refreshing foil to these more serious flavors.

2018 Riesling
RayLen’s Riesling will take you back to summer days in the south picking honeysuckles in your grandmother’s backyard. Notes of white lily and honey on the palate are followed by sweet candied lemon and honeysuckle nectar on the palate.

2019 Reserve Barrel Chardonnay
This wine is bodacious and powerfully structured with intense, juicy flavors of baked apple, orange zest, toasted almond, vanillin and butter.  The creamy textures glide smooth through the palate leading to a delectable silky finish.

Upcoming Workshop

If you’d like to build your own charcuterie board in a workshop-style format with friends, plan to join us on April 10th from 3-4pm for our Boards & Bordeaux charcuterie workshop! Luiza Holland of Wanderlust Boards will walk you through the process of creating a beautiful, custom charcuterie board. Learn valuable skills like choosing a balanced variety of ingredients and styling your board to selecting the perfect wine pairing. Enjoy your board onsite with a bottle of RayLen wine or take it home to share!

Tickets are $55 per person and include a charcuterie kit, a disposable palm leaf plate to create your board on, and a glass of wine. Each kit includes a selection of gourmet cheeses, meats, fresh and dried fruits, spreads, nuts, and other accompaniments. Wooden boards will also be available for purchase during the workshop. Workshop instruction will last about 1 hour.

Limited seats will be available, so get your tickets today! Ticket sales end April 5th at 6pm. Purchase your ticket online or call us in the Tasting Room at (336) 276-2687 to reserve your spot. All ticket sales are final. No refunds or exchanges will be permitted.

Local Charcuterie Companies

In our region, we are lucky to have numerous charcuterie companies that make custom boards, platters, and spreads for their customers and inspire us while doing so! Here are just a few local companies:

Wanderlust Boards – We have worked with owner Luiza Holland on numerous occassions now. We’ve partnered with Wanderlust Boards for Evening with the Winemaker, Love the Wine You’re With, and again for our Boards & Bordeaux workshop coming up in April. Wanderlust Boards is based out of Greensboro, NC.
Email: wanderlustboardsgso@gmail.com; Phone: (336) 541-5953

The Grazeful Boards – RayLen Vineyards has worked with Maeson Childress for a special Celebration Package we did and couldn’t stop raving about her board! The Grazeful Boards is based out of Kernersville, NC.
Email: thegrazefulboards@gmail.com

The Gather & Graze Co – Whitney Chaney designs beautiful boards with the mission of gathering friends and family to share delicious food. The Gather & Graze Co is based out of High Point, NC.
Phone: (843) 496-2877

The Board Babe – Taylor Hedges is THE Board Babe. She offers custom charcuterie/grazing boards and a unique charcuterie café & lounge based out of Winston-Salem, NC.
Email: Taylor@theboardbabe.net