Summer Solstice Grazing Board with Carpineto

It’s hard to believe it, but June 21st marks the Summer Solstice and the first day of summer. The word “solstice” is actually derived from the Latin word “solstitium,” roughly meaning “sun standing still” and is used to describe the longest day of the year. The summer solstice is observed by many different cultures around the world in various ways, but the core to most of these celebrations includes getting outside and appreciating the sunlight.

In many traditions, this solstice is known as a time of renewal and abundant energy. While Americans don’t really have a traditional way of celebrating the first day of summer, nothing says summer to me more than spending time outside with a beautiful grazing board paired with a light and refreshing white wine.

You can customize your grazing board however you like, but I typically like to get the following ingredients:

  1. Two or three cheeses. I prefer to get a variety of cheeses and flavor profiles into the board so I recommend at least one soft cheese like triple crème brie, one harder cheese like an aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, and one wild card – I like to use either a truffle cheese or a semi-soft bleu cheese.
  2. Two or three meats. I always try to have a few different options for meats, usually a thin salami, a dense cured meat like Soppresseta, and a dry-cured ham like prosciutto.
  3. Something green. A lot of people like olives or cornichons on their boards. Personally, I prefer a little dish of artichoke hearts with olive oil!
  4. Nuts. I love adding a few different types of nuts; usually I’ll look for a plain or lightly salted nut like macadamia, and then I’ll also include something sweet like honey roasted pecans.
  5. Dried Fruit, honey or jam. I always think it’s a good idea to have some sweeter options on the board, especially to contrast any stronger cheeses. I like to have either honey or fig jam somewhere on the board, as well as some dried fruits like apricots or dates.
  6. Crackers! I prefer to have some freshly toasted bread alongside a grazing board, but it can be a good idea to have some crackers as well.

Once you have all of your ingredients, it’s time to start piecing them together on the board like a puzzle. I start by putting down the cheeses first, and then will add any dishes (if you’re putting a small dish of fig jam or your ‘something green’) and then add in the meats. Slowly start filling in the gaps on the board with handfuls of different ingredients until most of the space is filled. Since it’s the first day of summer, try adding some fresh flowers to fill any remaining space on the board for decoration.

One of my favorite white wines to pair with a board like this is Carpineto’s Dogajolo Toscana Bianco blend. Notes of pear, grapefruit, honeycomb, peach and stone pair beautifully with the complex flavors in the various meats and cheeses. This wine is light and refreshing and the acidity cuts nicely as a contrast with the fattiness from the meat and cheese. Try this at home and let us know what you think!