If you’ve ever been to any Christmas or Easter party, there’s a good chance you’ve seen more than one person enjoying a wine and ham pairing.
We will cover everything you need to know about the ham and wine pairings, including the wines to pair tips and a FAQ section for any questions you might have.
What is Ham, How did Ham and Wine Pairings Start?
Ham is pork meat specifically from the hind leg of a domestic pic. It is usually salty meat with a fleshy density and relatively lower in fat than other pork cuts. It also has a subtle sweet taste as a nice balance to its default salty flavor.
Ham has several preparation methods which can make the flavors vary significantly. Fresh ham is excellent for immediate preparation and consumption.
You will see fresh ham as a delicacy for many holidays, especially Christmas and Easter. In the United States and Europe, ham roasts are popular and have become a tradition for some families.
This is where ham pairings started from and developed to what it is today. As with many of these celebrations, wine drinking is essential, so it only makes sense to pair the wines with the delicacies served at these activities.
Today you will find many cured ham specialties in different parts of the world with unique combinations and wine pairings. If you’re serving ham this Easter or Christmas, check out some of the best wine and ham pairings below.
What Wine Goes with Ham
The wine pairing with ham depends on the type of ham you are eating. There are three primary methods of producing ham: salting (dry-curing), wet-curing, and smoking.
Some producers also use a combination of the three methods so, we will divide our pairings according to taste, and you can get the basic rules in pairing them together.
Dry-Cured Aged Ham
This is ham that has high salt content, usually thinly sliced and boldly flavored. A great example of ham in this category is the Italian delicacy Prosciutto.
Dry-cured hams are usually very thin sheets as an appetizer that melts in your mouth. Examples of ham in this category include:
- Bayonne Ham
- Jamón Ibérico
- Serrano Ham
Recommended Wines for Dry-Cured Aged Ham
The saltiness of this type of wine means the most suitable options are sparkling wines that can balance it out. Some of them are:
Stella Rosa Rosso
This $12 wine bottle can significantly improve the simplest ham dinner and balances out ideally with various recipes. Rosso is a semi-sweet red wine delicately effervescent and gives excellent refreshment to anyone during holidays or festive seasons.
Its unique red berry flavor has long been a dining favorite and an easy go-to for many because it matches easily. You can experiment and have fun with this drink with different recipes.
Sparkling wine is always a welcome treat at any event, and Prosecco, in particular, will get your guests excited. It is an excellent choice with ham because of its light and smooth flavor. Its taste is far away from other dry wines and will pair perfectly with dry-cured ham.
The bubbles in this wine will lift the salt and ham in the wine to blend off the taste. The off-dry nature of Prosecco makes it a perfect choice for any sweet glazed food or pairing.
You should also consider a sparkling Rose or a sparkling red. Crisp minerally and herbaceous white wines, dry Madeira, and dry sherry wines are also great options. You should try the following:
- Fino Sherry
- Manzanilla Sherry
- Verdelho Madeira
- Sercial Madeira
Savory and Smoky Ham
This ham is usually smoked but has different size ranges, including full-sized hams to the pre-sliced hams.
You will typically bake full-sized hams in the oven and buy pre-sliced hams from grocery stores, and there is usually a considerable difference in their size. It is usually cut in medium to thick slices and has a medium to bold flavor that isn’t generally sweet.
Sometimes, this less sweetened ham includes some processed options like Spam and Mortadella. Savory and smoky ham is a lot juicer and far less salty than dry-cured ham, so it matches perfectly with a lighter red and rose wines. Examples of ham in this category are:
- Black Forest Ham
- Smoked Ham Hocks for Soup
- Country-Cured non-glazed ham
Recommended Wines for Savory and Smoky Ham
Since this type of ham is less sweet and has more texture, a medium-bodied fruity red with moderate acidity will be a perfect pairing.
Domaine Turenne Camille Rosé
It can be challenging classifying Rose wines under one singular taste profile, and this is one of those wine bottles that show that.
Even though Rose wines from the Côtes de Provence AOC region in France are typically known as one of the best driest wines, this wine is unlike the rest.
Domaine Turenne Camille Rosé isn’t a dry wine but isn’t as sweet as earlier mentioned sparkling wines. It is an excellent choice for most food pairings, and if you’re confused, this is a safe choice to select.
It is a pink wine obtained from several red wine grapes, including Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault.
You and your guests will enjoy the elegant apricot and peach flavors, and the wine’s minimal intervention helps you get the natural taste of the wine.
You can pair this wine with your wine recipes, including grilled orange ginger ham, in addition to apricot and Dijon preserves.
Chateau Souverain Chardonnay
This is a California table wine that is a perfect match for baked ham with pineapple.
Pineapple is one of the keynotes you’ll find while tasting the wine, making it great for balancing out savory and smoky ham types.
After drinking the wine, the first thing that will come to your mind is spring, and the bottle even has all the markings.
This exquisite wine has layers that move from roasted pears to soft spices. You won’t believe the $13 price tag on this wine after tasting it, and it has a lot of flavors that even red wine lovers will enjoy.
We also recommend some well-known wines for this type of ham, including:
- Grenache-based reds
- Aged Tempranillo
- Primitivo-Negroamaro blends
Sweet and Salty Ham
These are usually medium to thick-cut hams with a nice, chewy feel in the mouth and a distinctly sweet flavor. If you’ve ever eaten Canadian bacon, you should know what we’re saying.
Since this type of ham is sweet, it is ideal for matching wines with the same sweet or fruity taste. Some of these wines will go smoothly with sweet wines, and you may discover some exciting pairing options.
Examples of ham in this category are:
- Glazed baked hams
- Canadian bacon
- Honey baked ham
Recommended Wines for Sweet and Salty Ham
You will find that the best pairing options for sweet foods are sweet wines too. However, some decide to go for dry flavors. We have included at least one of each in our recommended wines list. Check them out:
Jermann Pinot Grigio
This wine has become a staple for the Easter holidays in many homes, and if you haven’t tried it before, we guarantee that it’s worth it.
Jermann Pinot Grigio is a nice compliment to many spiral glazed ham recipes and supports the sweet flavor.
It is an Italian white wine directly from the lines of similar Pinot Grigio bottles. Drinking this wine gives a fresh, smooth, and dry taste that leaves you feeling refreshed.
You will also taste a wide array of fruits, including common ones like apple and citrus, to other flavors like ginger and honey that keeps things interesting.
Chateau Ste Michelle Dry Riesling
Reisling is a dry wine that accurately balances out the sweetness in ham. It is a refreshing white wine that has a crisp elegance. It has a gorgeous bottle that is also very affordable and offers good quality.
This wine is from the grapes in Columbia Valley, and it is not a difficult wine to find; your closest grocery store should have it in stock.
Chateau Ste Michelle Dry Riesling is a Washington state wine known for its exciting acidity flavor with notes of lime and apple. It is an excellent choice for all types of flavored hams.
You can also try the following wines.
- White Zin/Merlot
- Chenin Blanc
- White Port
- Vin Santo
- Brachetto d’Acqui
Wine and Ham Pairing Tips
Here are some tips you should know while pairing wine and ham together to obtain the best results.
Consider the Flavors
It would be best if you always matched wines with flavors, and sometimes you can use it to determine how you’ll make your ham. Baking your ham gives the meat a slightly sweet-salty flavor.
More so, adding fruit glazes of different varieties like orange, pineapple, or honey could further sweeten the ham. You should also consider if you’re using a smoked ham or any coatings or flavor that might affect its taste.
All of these are essential in deciding which wine to pair with your ham.
Some Wines Aren’t Advisable.
Complimenting ham flavors is tricky, and not all bring out the best results.
Most ham dishes fall on the distinct salty-sweet flavor side, so you should generally avoid wines with a heavy or full-bodied flavor that could overrun the ham’s taste.
Also, don’t pair tart wines with hams prepared with honey or fruit glazes, as their flavor will conflict with the glaze’s sweetness.
Many wine choices that pair best with wines include white Zinfandel or Rose and dry white wines.
Preparing Your Ham
Some methods of preparing your ham will naturally open you up to a lot more wine options than other preparation methods.
Coating your ham with honey glaze is one of these ways that gives you many wine choices because of its sweet and moist flavor.
California pinot red wine is an excellent choice for ham prepared this way as it has plenty of fruity and sweet flavors without becoming too bold.
Smoking your ham is another option that requires minimal effort.
Experiment with new Combinations
Even though we have given you many options to try out and see if you like, you should also try out your favorite wine bottles as we cannot mention all.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with that red wine you love to drink on the weekends; the results might surprise you. Even if the results aren’t what you hoped for, you would’ve discovered new ham recipes and new wines.
Best Wines for Ham: FAQ
Does Red or White Wine go With Ham?
Yes. Both red and white wines go well with ham, and you can pair them accordingly depending on the flavors and type of ham.
Even though ham, like pork, is white meat, it pairs increasingly well with some red wines. The best wine and ham combinations ultimately depend on the preparation method and the glaze on ham.
What Red Wine Goes With Ham?
Many do not compromise on red wine, and when they’re guests, you still have to serve them drinks with their ham. There are a lot of red wine options that go with ham too.
As long as you keep the body of the wine in a range from light to medium and make sure the fruit components match with the food pairing, you should be good.
Some great red wine options include Stella Rosa Rosso, Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block, Meiomi Pinot Noir, and Carnivor Zinfandel to name a few.
Is Pinot Noir Good With Ham?
Almost everyone I have met loves a good bottle of Pinot Noir; however, is it good with ham? This light, acidic wine is also a great compliment to ham.
It would help if you paired it with smoked ham or any other ham type with cherry glaze. Some people love acidic wines like Pinot Noir to balance out the delightful ham flavors, especially those with glazing.
What Wine Goes with Christmas Ham?
Many times, Christmas ham is usually the sweet variety, with some even having some delicious glazes.
You should consider a significant factor when selecting wines for Christmas because glazes can pair nicely with fruity reds. Some recommendations for sweet Christmas ham include Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah.
Does Cabernet Sauvignon Go With Ham?
We would recommend Cabernet Sauvignon with your ham if it has a bit of fat because the more significant the flavor of the meat pairs means it will pair nicely with reds.
Cured hams are best to pair with bigger red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, especially if the ham has fat. Other options you might consider are Petite Verdot and Petite Sirah.
However, since Cabernet Sauvignon is a high acid wine, it might taste bitter or harsh with some flavors of ham, depending on the preparation method.