Of the many casualties of the pandemic, there is one we particularly miss: the communal pleasures of shared plates and charcuterie boards.
Given that the Pacific Northwest is home to some of world’s top winemakers, creameries, chocolatiers, bakers and producers of cured meat, the loss of these charcuterie boards are particularly missed. But, to no one’s surprise, these same food mavens have crafted a clever work-around: they’ve temporarily stored the boards and, in their place, pulled Mason jars from the cupboard.
The end result is something to behold – portable and thoughtful single-serving “jarcuterie” displays.
On the Board, a clever caterer serving Washington’s Tri-Cities, has assembled three different jarcuterie jars, each with a different taste profile. You, of course, can also create your own. And because every nibble is always better with a sip, we’ve paired two wines with each jar. So, whether you’re celebrating St. Valentine’s Day with loved ones, or simply wanting to nibble creatively while waiting for your shot(s) at a vaccine, these delectable pairings are not to be missed.
On the Board’s Jarcuterie Jar #1: The Classic
IN THE JAR
Brie Cheese, Aged Cheddar, Pepperoni Stick, Genoa Salami Skewer, Garlic-stuffed Olive, Gherkins, Hard Breadstick, Blueberry/Raspberry/Blackberry Skewer, Pistachios
FOR THE PAIRING
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2019 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $9 – Ste. Michelle’s Bob Bertheau and David Rosenthal credit Germany’s Ernst Loosen for leading them down the path to world-class Riesling. Done properly, this noble grape offers brilliant natural acidity and should not be stereotyped as “sweet.” Here is the world’s largest bottling of Riesling — yes, that is fact — and it brings orchard fruit, jasmine and spice in the nose, followed by a flavorful blend of Granny Smith apple, lime juice and tropicality. Riesling, a vastly versatile food wine, deserves its place alongside an antipasto platter, and the berry skewer will marry well with this slightly off-dry white.
Free Dog Wines 2019 Albariño, Snake River Valley, $18 – Teresa Moye and her partner, Martin Fujishin of Fujishin Family Cellars in Idaho’s Sunnyslope Wine District, created this fun brand as a tribute to rescue dogs … and cats. Fujishin contracts with nearby Williamson Vineyards for the racy Spanish white grape, and the stone fruit and floral character is a nice foil for the brie and aged cheddar. The wine’s dry and spicy approach works with the savory pepperoni and salami, as well as the briny nature of olives and gherkins, and salt of the nuts.
On the Board’s Jarcuterie Jar #2: Sweet & Spicy
IN THE JAR
Prosciutto-wrapped Mozzarella, Candied Bacon, Pepper Jack Cheese, Sweet Sesame Chips/Spicy Mix, Chipotle & Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Bar, Braided Cheese Bread Stick, Sweet Cherry Peppers
Stoller Family Estate 2018 Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, $35
One of Oregon’s most delicious, affordable and widely distributed examples of Pinot Noir also showcases the Burgundian grape’s inherent food worthiness. Notes of earthiness, tapenade and ripe blue fruit come with nicely managed tannins that are capped by juiciness. While some may balk at pairing red wine and chocolate, Deena Branson of Branson’s Chocolates in Ashland, Ore., says the inclusion of salt in any chocolaty treat is the key bridge to wine.
Echolands Winery 2018 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $38
Another “Rhône Ranger” rides into the Pacific Northwest. Doug Frost is the latest Master of Wine to set up shop in the Walla Walla Valley and create a serious cool-climate example of Syrah that offers a bit of crunch, sans the funk. An attractive nose of blueberry, lavender, mint and marshmallow includes a dash of white pepper and bit of bacon. More purple fruit comes through on the palate — think Marionberry pie, boysenberry and more blueberry — backed by the nervy structure Frost desires. When it comes to Syrah, you had me at bacon for Jar #2, but there’s the prosciutto and cheesy items, too.
On the Board’s Jarcuterie Jar #2: The Artisan
IN THE JAR
Blue Cheese, Aged Gouda, Beef Jerky, Sopresetta, Dried Apricot, Dried Black Figs, Walnuts/Almonds, Honey Stick
FOR THE PAIRING
Treveri Cellars NV Brut Zero Blanc de Blancs, Columbia Valley, $15
The Grieb family is now in its second decade as the bubble barons of Washington state, and this is a classic example of methode Champenoise from Chardonnay grapes. It’s a delightful, sophisticated and crisp sparkling wine that opens with aromas of Granny Smith apple, citron and fresh-baked bread. There’s fun frothiness to the mousse and delicious yeastiness, followed by Key lime, Golden Delicious apple and Asian pear. There’s not even a wisp of sweetness as it finishes with a twist of lemon. Sparkling wine is the quintessential food wine, and when done dry, there’s nothing it won’t pair with.
Abacela 2017 Estate Fifty-Fifty Tempranillo-Malbec, Umpqua Valley, $32
Tempranillo, the third-most planted variety in the world, is a Spanish red grape so remarkably food-friendly that it’s synonymous with tapas — Spain’s term for appetizers. Temp drinks akin to a burly Cab in its youth, so the influence of Malbec here supplies welcomed juiciness, making for a balanced red of blackcurrant and blueberry with light barrel toast and dusty tannins. The fascinating ingredient in Jar #3 is jerky. We found the brown sugar/maple-flavored smoked beef strips from Taylor’s Sausage in Cave Junction, Ore., will highlight the delicious Bing cherry notes in the blend by the trailblazing Jones family at Abacela.
Eric Degerman operates GreatNorthwestWine.com, an award-winning media company that contributes to news organizations and publications such as The Seattle Times and the Slow Wine Guide.