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How To Make A Charcuterie Board

Erin O'Reilly - Certified Specialist of Wine

Wine and small bites have an affinity for each other. Add in good company, and you have all of the right ingredients for a relaxed gathering and easy conversation. Charcuterie boards are an effortless way to bring everything and everyone together. (Recommended grocery list and video below!)

Download: Charcuterie Board Grocery List (PDF)

A long charcuterie board with a bowl of nuts, strawberries, round crackers, cherries, yellow cheese and more blurred in the background

What is a charcuterie board?

Charcuterie (pronounced char-koo-tuh-ree) is the French term for cured meats. The exact translation is ‘chair’ for meat and ‘cuit’ for cooked. Going back to the 15th century, French guilds regulated tradesmen and production processes for these cured meats. The concept comes from not wanting to waste any part of an animal, and so different techniques for preservation developed in a time before modern refrigeration. Examples of charcuterie include salted meats, pâté, and sausage.

Traditionally, a charcuterie board is a plated dish of artfully arranged cured meats and cheeses. Today, you’ll find that charcuterie boards have expanded their repertoire to include olives, dried and fresh fruits, preserves, pickles, and even jams. Diners serve themselves communally from the plate. The array of different foods allows for customized flavor and texture combinations.

Charcuterie board with strawberries, orange jam, round crackers and slices of hard cheese

DIY Charcuterie Board

Charcuterie boards are a low-effort, high-reward way to entertain guests. The main ingredients are items that anyone can keep on a pantry shelf or in the fridge, pulling them out to host a no-notice, after-work happy hour or unexpected Saturday afternoon guest.

Nuts, dried fruits, olives, aged cheeses, crackers, jerky, salami - the list goes on. Slice up some apple and you’re all set!

If you have time to plan your gathering, check out the deli and grab-and-go food sections at your local grocery store. These usually have a nice variety of artisanal olives and sliced meats you can choose from. Select 2-3 types of cheeses. I recommend a manchego, brie, and aged cheddar. Add a loaf of fresh bread to your basket while you’re there. Finally, circle round to the produce aisle and pick up grapes, an apple, or even fresh figs.

Pro Tip: If you want your charcuterie board to really pop, adding a bit of greenery such as fresh rosemary sprigs or a small vase of wildflowers can really take your spread to the next level!

Charcuterie Board Ideas

Themed charcuterie boards are a fun way to mix things up! Explore different regions by pairing cuisine and wine. Spain, France, Portugal (see a recipe for Portuguese Charcuterie Board here), Greece, Hungary, and more all import specialty cheeses and savory snack items.

Seek out international grocers that carry these foods and then pair them with their regional wines. If you want to get your guests involved, ask them to find specific food items. It soon becomes something of a treasure hunt, each person contributing something unique. (Hint: You can also do this with your International Wine Club shipments!)

Closeup of a charcuterie board with strawberries, a bowl of nuts, slices of hard cheese and long crispy crackers in a cup

Wine for Charcuterie

Most wines pair well with charcuterie boards. No special instructions required. Paring wine with charcuterie is easy because foods high in salt, protein, and fat tend to enhance the fruity qualities of wine and decrease the perception of alcohol and astringency.

The flavor combinations of your small bites will compliment wine, making it smooth and bright. Just one more reason that charcuterie boards can be your go-to hosting dish for any gathering!

Recommended Charcuterie Board Grocery List:

Here's a quick list that you can copy down or download and take with you to the store! The following is recommended for a gathering of 3-4 people as a main meal. If there are more attending, you'll want to increase the amount of each category.

Charcuterie Staples
We recommend including each of the following:

  • 2 bottles of wine - 1 white/Rosé + 1 red (see our online wine store)

  • 2 or 3 cheeses - 1 soft, 1 hard, 1 strong/fancy

  • 2 types of cured meats

  • 2 types of crackers or bread

Something Refreshing
We recommend including at least one of the following:

  • fresh fruits or berries

  • fruity jam or preserves

  • cucumbers

  • radishes

Something Dried
We recommend including at least one of the following:

  • dried fruits

  • assortment of nuts

Something Fermented
We recommend including at least one of the following:

  • olives

  • capers

  • cornichons

  • olive oil and vinegar for dipping

Something Extra
If you want to put finishing touches on your platter:

  • edible flowers (fresh or dried)

  • honey drizzle

  • sprigs of rosemary or mint (decoration)

  • vase of wildflowers (decoration)

  • cheese slicer and/or toothpicks

Download: Charcuterie Board Grocery List (PDF)

Video: How To Make The Perfect Charcuterie Board


Erin O'Reilly Author Bio Image Author Bio: Erin O’Reilly is a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators and a long-time lover of all things fermented grape. She pens her work from Monterey wine country where she raises a glass to the growers and producers crafting wines that transcend time.