No need to stress about which wines to pair with your charcuterie board. Here are some tips and tricks from a few local industry experts
The first point of call when addressing charcuterie is the pronunciation. Let’s say it together: sha-queue-ter-ree. Go on, say it one more time, just for good measure. While the word may seem a bit intimidating, the boards themselves are nothing to be afraid of. Hospitality expert Maurice Beaver of Drink and Pair describes this expertly cured meat as: ‘Any processed meat that has been dehydrated, salted, smoked or cured using some other process. You’ll often see charcuterie served on a platter on its own before a meal, or as antipasto, where it is accompanied by grilled veggies, cheese, marinated or pickled vegetables and olives.’
Chef Katlego Mlambo from The Marabi Club and host of Kasi-licious says: ‘I love the relationship between a good full-bodied red wine and a delicious fatty and spicy charcuterie.’ It feels as though this is a glorious no-brainer, but there are a few combinations one could consider. As with most things in the food and wine world, it really is all about interpretation. A general rule of thumb is that when faced with a board of milder, saltier meats such as prosciutto, soppressata, or mortadella, all ideal for a beginner’s charcuterie platter, look for lighter white wines such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or medium-bodied reds such as a Pinot Noir or Merlot.
And if you’re feeling adventurous, a fruity Prosecco would set that platter ablaze! These pieces of artistically nurtured meats often hail from France, Italy and Spain – cultures that appreciate spices, heat and full-bodied flavours in food. When enjoying a board studded with picante chorizo, peppered salami or luxuriously flavoursome guanciale, choose a wine that can take the heat but also stand up to the flavours. Pour yourself a glass of chilled Chenin Blanc, hearty Malbec or sultry Gamay to offer you enough gees to take on the flavours of the charcuterie.
Some have argued that there is no need to be fussed about what tipple to order with your platter of cured meats. David Higgs, Chef at Marble, Saint and Zioux, judge on My Kitchen Rules SA and cookbook author says that: ‘Sometimes, I drink champagne with it. It cuts through the fat, with the saltiness and the sweetness. Other times, I want to drink red wine with it. And sometimes, a whisky or cognac because it can stand up to those flavours’. David, being the bold man that he is, makes some suggestions that would woo any palate, should they dare to indulge.
Adam Robinson from Durban’s golden child, The Glenwood Bakery, laments that: ‘If one wants to get extremely esoteric, it is worth remembering that both products are fermented and the bacterial fermentation plays a large part in the flavour profile of both products. Nutty, fruity, rich, sweet – you can find all those flavours in a good cured meat as well as wine.’ We enjoy Adam’s uncomplicated but scientifically driven perspective on the subject. It appeals to the food nerd in us all, we would think. The next time you saddle up to the bar and order some wafer-thin slices of whatever dry-aged hunk of desire they have placed within arm’s reach, don’t be stressed about what to pair it with. Rather swing from the hip because chances are that you can’t really land too far off the mark.
Words by Kamini Pather
Photography: Pexels, Courtesy Images
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