Planning a get-together? Perhaps for your fantasy football league draft, or the first PTA meeting of the new school year?
An easy way to cater it is to combine a classic cheese plate with a charcuterie board, and open a few bottles of chilled-down Pinot Grigio and/or Pinot Gris — perhaps one or more of these.
When not sitting down for a formal meal, cheese, charcuterie and Pinot Grigio make for a tantalizingly tasty treat. Most of the food can be obtained at your neighborhood grocery store; a few of the items may require a trip to a specialty market such as Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or my better half’s favorite destination in Chicago, the all-things-Italian mega-store known as Eataly.
Here’s a “cheat sheet” for your shopping expedition…
- Four or five of your favorite cheeses, sliced thin or cut into small cubes.
- Salami, also sliced thin.
- Five or six selections of cured meats. Prosciutto, of course, is a must, but also surprise guests with a few less-obvious choices such as Mocetta (cured beef tenderloin). When we visited Barcelona, we fell in love with Jamon Serrano (Spanish ham), which seemed to be available everywhere.
- Gherkin pickles. They go great with the meats. Put a piece of Mocetta and a Gherkin pickle on a slice of bread, and you have a gourmet mini-sandwich packed with flavor.
- Crackers and either your favorite type of spread or a flavorful dip.
No fancy serving trays are necessary, unless you really want to spend time on the presentation. Just lay out the various selections on regular dinner plates, provide a supply of toothpicks, and let your guests go at it. Even the wine can be self-serve; just place glasses next to the opened bottles of Pinot Grigio / Pinot Gris.
Why that variety? Isn’t it kind of strange to serve a white wine with meats?
Pinot Grigio / Pinot Gris typically undergoes little or no barrel aging, so there are no oak or oak spice flavors to compete with the saltiness of your charcuterie selections. Furthermore, it’s the perfect variety for chilling down, and that makes it extremely refreshing — also a good thing when serving wine with salty food. Even the pickled personality of the Gherkins won’t cause a problem, especially when you chomp on one with a piece of meat and a cracker or slice of bread.
Be adventurous. Don’t stress the pairings. This is one instance when the wine — especially these selections — will work wonders with virtually any of the cheese or charcuterie selections you come up with.
Just chill down the wine… and chill!