Three Off-the-Beaten-Path Pairings for Holiday Cheese & Charcuterie Platters (#WinePW)

Looking for something a bit out of the ordinary to pair with your Holiday cheese and charcuterie platters? I've got you!

Some wines in this post were provided as media samples. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Last year we spent Thanksgiving weekend with our good friends Lucy and Drew. It was a decadent weekend, which included many feasts accompanied by many bottles of excellent wine. I shared some of those meals and pairings recently here. In addition, we also had a  delicious session with cheese and charcuterie. I saw this as an excuse to bust out some off-the-beaten-path bottles to experiment with. You know  . . . for science. 

Tasty work indeed! So if you’re looking for something a little different for the holiday season, I’ve got some bottles for you! 

Albert Boxler Crémant d'Alsace NV

Blend: 30% Pinot Blanc, 50% Pinot Auxerrois, 20% Pinot Noir | Average Price: $36 (Sample) | ABV: 12% | Farming Practices: Organic (practicing)

Crémants make an excellent alternative to Champagne that’s often quite a bit less pricey.  Crémants are basically French sparkling wines made in the méthode traditionnelle, but from regions other than Champagne. (Check out this post for more on Crémant in general, and we’ll be taking a closer look at Crémants from Alsace next week.)  This one comes for Alsace, one of my favorite regions. The area is gifted with fantastic weather conditions that make it particularly suitable for sustainable and organic farming practices, and this bottle is an example of that.

Domaine Albert Boxler dates back to 1673 when Jean Boxler moved to the region from Switzerland. Many generations later, another Jean Boxler is at the head of the domaine, making many excellent wines using traditional techniques, including this delicious Crémant which is bottled aged on its lees for a minimum of 24 months.

Find additional details here and here.

Tasting Notes: This bubbly had a nice mix of richness at the start of the palate, with refreshing minerality on the finish. It showed notes of golden apple, a squeeze of lemon, with a light hint of toast. Even though it doesn’t say it on the label, this is an extra brut with a bright, crisp finish.

Pairings: This was excellent with the softer cheeses on our board like Camembert and truffled Brie. It was also absolutely delicious with toasts topped with lardo, as the wine cut through the fattiness of the lardo perfectly and mirrored the flavors of the toasts. We gilded the lily a bit, and topped some of these with a cheese sauce, making the refreshing wine all the more necessary.

Domaine Glinavos 'Paleokerisio' PGI Ioannina 2018

Blend: 97% Debina and 3% Vlahiko  | Price: $14 (500 ml bottle, purchased at K & L)  | ABV: 10.5%   | Farming Practices: Organic

It’s orange. It’s lightly sparkling. It’s semi-dry. This wine is quite unique. It caught my attention right away the first time I had it since I’ve never had anything else quite like it. 

Domaine Gilvanos was established by Lefteris Glinavos. He’d had ambitions for better Greek wines and left home to study enology abroad in the 1960s. In 1978, he established his winery in Zitsa, in the region of Ioannina in northwestern Greece. His son Thomas joined the company in 1990, and with him came the first in a wave of improvements to the winery thanks to investments and moves to modernize the wine-making. They’ve made it a goal to  

Sittig at 700 meters above sea level, the Zitsa appellation is located on the western slopes of the Pindos range. Thanks to this high elevation and the continental climate, this is one of Greece’s coolest wine regions in Greece. The star grape of the region is Debina, a delicate and crisp grape that tastes of “freshly-picked Granny Smith apple.” Wines under the Zitsa appellation must be 100% Debina, but this wine has a little splash of a red variety called Vlahiko as well. 

This cuvée is made in a semi-sparkling style that was traditional in Ioannina. The de-stemmed grapes remain in oak casks during fermentation for about 12 days. From my understanding, the wine is later racked several times, and ultimately the second fermentation takes place in closed tanks.

Find additional details here and here. 

Tasting Notes: The wine had notes of orange, dried apricots, apples, and hints of spice and hay. It’s slightly funky in the way of kombucha or sour beer. It’s lightly fizzy and it shows just a hint of sweetness. It’s definitely not a wine for everyone, even a little weird, but it’s completely out of the ordinary! For the price, it’s a pretty inexpensive way to have an adventure.

Pairings: The wine worked AMAZINGLY well with the blue cheese and salamis. The stronger flavors kind of helped to tame the wine.

The winery also recommends this with appetizers like foie gras and bottarga of Messologgi, dishes traditional to the mountainous Epirus region, as well as lightly sweet desserts.

Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana Wellington 30 Year Old Palo Cortado VORS

Blend: Palomino  | Average Price: $89.80 ( for 500 ml bottle) | ABV: 19%  | Farming Practices: Organic

Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana was founded in 1792 by Don José Pantaleón Hidalgo. It has been passed down from father to son ever since and is now its eighth generation. They’re one of the only companies left in the area that is still managed by the family. The house manages 200 hectares of vines, all farmed organically. Most of them are located in the Pagos of Miraflores and Balbaina. 

The name “La Gitana” refers to their flagship Manzanila Sherry,  however, today we’re looking at one of their Palo Cortados. This is a rare style of Sherry, and honestly, I find Palo Cortado to be the most difficult category to fully understand, but I do tend to love them when I get the chance. This was a bottle I’d had stashed away in “the cellar” for a long time and was excited to share. 

I think my confusion around Palo Cortados is founded because it’s not well-defined. It’s a dry style made from the Palomino grape that traditionally started life intended for Fino/Manzanilla, but then didn’t develop flor correctly in one way or another, and so the cask would be removed from that solera. According to the Consejo Regulador, “it should have the aromatic refinement of Amontillado combined with the structure and body of an Oloroso.” I invite you to take look at this description from for further clarification. 

The age classification, 30 years VORS (Very Old Rare Sherry), indicates that the average age of the wine in the solera must be 30 years old. 

Find additional details here. 

Tasting Notes: Mixed toasted, salted nuts like hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts, with dried apricots and orange skins. There were hints of spice, toffee, and light smoke. This one had a beautiful zing of acidity as well that helped to brighten the palate. 

Pairings: I particularly love aged sherries with aged cheeses like aged goudas and cheddars, as well as manchego. You can probably imagine that it’s also fantastic with nuts, as well as jamón. 


The rest of the Wine Pairing Weekend Blogging Group (#WinePW) is exploring the wines of Greece this month, hosted by Deanna of Wineivore. (I've cheated a bit since only one wine in this post is on the theme.) Read her preview post here.  





  1. Ooooo this is an entirely new wine and winery to me! I am definitely going to be looking for Domaine Gilvanos next time I'm in Greece!

  2. Love all three but the Greek seems especially fun and affordable!

  3. Yes, yes, and yes! I am absolutely loving this post and these ideas. Everyone is way overly familiar with the cheese and charcuterie board but yet still required and popular at every party known to mankind. So I love this idea of mixing it up with some FUN and UNUSUAL WINE! Nice job, and thanks for participating in the Greek exploration with #winepw!


Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!