It’s almost time for the most romantic day of the year, Valentine’s Day. With that day quickly approaching, we here at Ward’s want to help you spend quality time with your loved one. A wine and cheese pairing board is a great way to surprise your significant other and gives you a chance to slow down and enjoy delicious wine (and time) together. Not only that, but you will save money by staying in, rather than dining at an expensive restaurant.
We’ve compiled a how-to guide to create your own wine and cheese pairing board: selecting the wine, choosing the cheese and meats, and assembling them in a beautiful way. We hope that this guide will help you create wonderful memories with your loved one on the upcoming holiday!
What is a Wine & Cheese Board?
First, it’s important to know what a wine and cheese board actually is. A wine and cheese board can be anything you want, really. It can include fruit, meat, crackers, bread, olives and pickles, jam, cheese, and even chocolate. The key to creating a wine and cheese board is centering the flavor palate around the wine you’re choosing.
Meat and Cheese Board Components
Some of the most popular items to include on a wine and cheese board are:
- Charcuterie (Cured Meats): A meat selection is a vital component of a wine and cheese board, and gives you the opportunity to play around with different flavors and textures. At a minimum, we suggest using two to three cured meats. Thinly sliced prosciutto is a wine and cheese board favorite, and pairs well with a hard cured meat (like salami, copa, sopressata). For special occasions, you can also add some pâté. About 2 oz of meat per person will suffice.
- Cheeses: Think variety in terms of textures and milks. Try to incorporate at least one soft (or semi-soft) cheese and one hard cheese. Pick cheeses made from different milks: cow, sheep, goat, or a mixture. About 3 – 4 oz of cheese per person is a good serving.
- Bread or crackers: Keep the bread and/or crackers simple. Thin slices of baguette, plain breadsticks, or toast is great. Choose crackers that are light on flavor so you can highlight the meats and cheeses. These are nice accompaniments that provide additional crunch and texture.
- Olives & Pickles: Olives and other pickled snacks are a great palate cleanser and provide a great contrast to the rich meats and cheeses. The olives and pickles add a sharp sour note that cut through the richness of the other items.
- Honey & Jams: Honey and jams are a popular pairing for boards that include brie or blue cheese. To help prevent a sticky mess, we suggest keeping the honey and jam in separate containers on your board.
- Nuts: A wine and cheese board favorite is Marcona almonds but you can add whatever nut you prefer- walnuts, pistachios, pecans. These are another delicious way to incorporate crunch and textural variety.
- Fruits: Grapes, raisins, dried figs, and dried apricots are standard. Depending on the season, it’s great to incorporate fresh fruits like peaches, nectarines, and cherries.
Choosing Your Wine
Of course, even with all the delicious aspects of the board, the most important part is the wine itself! This can either be your first or your last step, depending on the flavors you want to highlight. If you want to highlight the wine itself, choose the accompanying board ingredients to compliment it. On the other hand, you can highlight the board ingredients themselves by choosing a wine based on that. It’s totally up to you!
Most people prefer to select one red wine and one white wine, but the possibilities are truly endless. You can also choose a sangria or a rosé wine for a sweeter, more dessert centered board. Take a stroll through our Wine Department and choose the wines that sound the best to you. If you need help choosing the wines, there are many blogs that can guide you along with the best flavor profiles for the wine you choose.
Assembling the Board
Once you’ve chosen your wine and cheese board ingredients, it’s time to assemble them in an aesthetically pleasing way. You really have a lot of artistic freedom to make the board look however you want. If you’re looking for a more rustic feel, choose a wooden cheese board or cutting board, and let your guests cut the cheese for themselves. If you’re leaning towards a more elegant feel, then a crystal plate or artistic ceramic plate would be a good choice.
The way you present the accouterments is another aspect of assembling the board. Some people to cut the cheese into slices and assemble them into a layered pattern. The thinner slices of meat can be folded next to each other as well. Feel free to play around with the look and style, and if you need ideas, a Google search can help.