The salty, savory flavors of a good charcuterie board are an easy way to please a crowd this holiday season, but what about the best wine pairings? There is indeed a wine for every kind of charcuterie—and when the pairing works, it makes everything taste better. I quizzed Advanced Sommelier Candidate and one of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers,” Alisha Blackwell-Calvert to weigh in on her favorite selections. Blackwell-Calvert teamed up with St. Louis-based Volpi Foods, a 4th generation Italian family-owned artisan charcuterie company, to mastermind the best pairings. Her first stop? Rose. She also suggests making room for Pinot Noir, Riesling and sparkling.
Rosé and Sopressata: Sopressata is an easily recognizable meat, found in many popular dishes. It originally hails from Southern Italy. It’s rich in flavor and a little oily, so Blackwell-Calvert recommends pairing it with “a nice vibrant rosé. Rosé can be made anywhere in the world, but I’m going to recommend pairing this Italian meat with an Italian rosé. I went with Benanti’s Etna Rosato. It’s got a gorgeous, soft salmon color and lots of cherry fruit. The vibrancy of the Rose goes perfectly with the salty and rich sopressata.”
Also Try: BY.OTT Côtes de Provence Rosé, 2021: Crafted by fourth generation winemaker Jean-Francois Ott, the grapes for this delightful rose are harvested from organically farmed vineyards. Juicy and rich with notes of strawberry, peach and some exotic spice, it’s refreshing, mouth-watering and flavorful.
Etna Rosso (or Pinot Noir) and Coppa: Says Blackwell-Calvert, “Coppa is one of my favorite charcuterie selections during the holidays with its rich red color, fatty texture and allspice, pepper and nutmeg flavors. The Traditional Coppa is made from the shoulder of the pig. The Benanti Etna Rosso has a bright and vibrant cherry and raspberry flavor. The nice tart character of the Etna Rosso complements the fatty, spiced Coppa deliciously. If you can’t find Etna Rosso, I recommend Pinot Noir, or any red wine that’s light with a lot of acidity to balance the Coppa.
Also Try: Domaine Carneros The Famous Gate Pinot Noir, 2019: Crafted from select cool climate parcels, the final wine shows elegance and structure with savory notes of raspberry, black tea and red currant.
Riesling and Chorizo: Chorizo is a spicy meat made with paprika which gives it that lovely red color. Since the chorizo has a little kick to it, Blackwell-Calvert recommends a wine with a little residual sugar to tame that spice. My recommendation is Willm’s Reserve Riesling, because it features delicious tropical fruit flavors that goes well with the spicy paprika notes in the chorizo. It also has a long mineral finish that will quench your thirst after each bite.
Also Try: Schmitt Sohne Riesling, Germany, 2020: Notes of juicy apple and ripe peach give this wine flexibility to match up with just about anything spicy. A century of family winemaking, great price, and an easy 11% alcohol make this a nice selection for people pleasing. $12
Lambrusco and Proscuitto: This Italian-forward pairing balances the prosciutto’s salty, melt-in-your-mouth texture with a dry wine including notes of violet, sweet cherry, and cranberry. For the Lambrusco, Blackwell-Calvert recommends Famiglia Carafoli MV “L’Onesta” Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC Emilia-Romagna, IT.
Also Try: Bricoleur Vineyards “Flying by the Seat of Our Pants” Brut, NV: made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier from cooler climate vineyards, the palate brims with berry and lemon cream notes and the finish is fresh and crisp. $45
Pecorino and Mortadella: The slow-roasted, fatty mortadella with pistachio nuts pairs perfectly with Italian Pecorino’s mineral-driven, floral, and acidic flavor profile creating a harmonious blend of flavors and textures. Blackwell-Calvert pairs it with the Ciavolich 2020 “Aeries” Pecorino, Colline Pescari IGP, IT.
Syrah and Bresaola: This spicy pairing wakes up your palate with the peppery, sweet flavors of the bresaola working perfectly with the Syrah’s rich and meaty flavor. Blackwell-Calvert recommends the Domaine Vincent Paris 2019 “Les Cotes”, Saint-Joseph AOP, FR