Choosing wine that pairs with ham are simple. The best bet is to choose Riesling, a light Pinot Noir, or Zinfandel wines. The longer answer: it depends on a few factors like preparation, personal taste, and season.
The Only Two Rules Of Food Wine Pairing
In food-wine pairing, there are two general rules that most people follow. I was recently reminded of these rules by the excellent book “Big Macs & Burgundy: Wine Pairings For The Real World.” By the way, that’s the best food-wine pairing book available today. Find out more in my review post: 10 Reasons Why “Big Macs & Burgundy” Is The Best Food Wine Pairing Book In The World.
Congruent food wine pairings mean the food and wine have similar characteristics. For example, sweet dessert wine and a sweet dessert dish could pair together nicely. In this way, the strong flavor of the food and wine cooperate.
Contrasting food pairings are about bringing together opposites. To experience a contrasting food pairing, try a bottle of champagne with fried chicken. That’s one of the beautiful food wine pairings suggested by “Big Macs & Burgundy.” A contrasting approach makes it easier to appreciate your wine choices anew with each sip you take.
These two food pairing rules are why there is so much variety in food-wine pairing tips. These two rules apply whether your favorite wines are full-bodied wines, pink wines, or acidic wines. Further, these rules apply to every kind of food pairing: black forest ham or something else; you will know how to choose a wine to please the wine drinkers in your home.
Now that we have those principles clearly defined, let’s look at some options.
Wine That Pairs With Ham: 6 Ideas
The specific ham dishes mentioned here are inspired by a few sources, including the following Epicurious post: 15 Best Ham Recipes for the Holidays. Keep these tips in mind as you set your holiday dinner table. Our focus here is on the pork, often called the “other” white meat. However, true wine connoisseurs would probably suggest having different wines with each course of your dinner. If you have a large group of family and friends to entertain, multiple bottles of wine are a good idea! Now let’s get started with the wine that pairs with ham list.
1 Old Fashioned Ham With Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze
This traditional holiday meal goes well with a few types of wine. For white wine lovers, try Riesling or Chenin Blanc. For red wine options, stick to lighter red wines like Grenache or Zinfandel. Such lighter wines are an excellent complement to this type of ham.
The amount of brown sugar is a crucial variable with this pairing. People that like their ham sweet or a honey glaze should pick a sweeter wine. These days, sweet wines aren’t as famous. As a starting point, check out my guide to semi-sweet Riesling.
2 Smoked Ham With Sweet Mustard Sauce
Smoked meat has quite a different flavor, so your wine bottle will need to line up with that. Once again, an off-dry Riesling is an excellent pairing. If you prefer a medium-bodied red wine, Pinot Noir is an excellent choice.
Wine lovers who prefer a fruit forward flavor profile should look at Pinot Noir from New Zealand. Pinot Noir from France, on the other hand, is an excellent choice if you want more of an earthy style. If you have a few bottles of wine at your holiday meal, you can enjoy the different flavor profile of each wine by comparing them.
Once again, Grenache is a good recommendation for a dry wine that is likely to be popular with everybody at your table, in addition to wine lovers.
3 Black Forest Ham And Wine
Black Forest ham is a type of smoked preparation. In that situation, you want to go with lighter red dry wines; in wine varietal, the meat pairs with a bottle of Zinfandel or Pinot Noir.
If you have black forest ham on a plate to start your meal, give some support to the meat. Specifically, two recommended kinds of cheese: cheddar cheese and Gruyere cheese, go well with this type of ham.
4 Honey Glazed Ham Wine Pairing
A honey-glazed ham often involves honey and cloves. Fortunately, you can easily find a wine with the right spicy notes to keep up with a honey-glazed ham at your holiday feast.
The recommended wine pairing for a honey-glazed ham is a California Pinot Noir. Check out the wine reviews in Wine Spectator or Decanter to find specific recommendations. As always, the best wine to find a perfect pairing for your taste is to try many different wines and experiment. Use the tips from influential wine people as a starting point only.
Tip: When you have a honey-glazed wine, it is best to avoid tart wines. Why? The intense flavor in tart wines tends to clash with the sweet notes of the glaze.
5 Spicy Food and Ham With Win
Spicy food might be your traditional favorite. In that case, there is a wide range of wines to consider. Think carefully about the level of spice in the dish when you pair a wine. Let’s consider spicy Korean BBQ pork as an example.
Wine pairings to consider red wines like the best Shiraz wine from Australia or an American Zinfandel. In addition, you can also pick up a bottle of Italy’s favorite food-friendly wine: Chianti. In terms of white wines, look for a bottle of high acidity Sauvignon Blanc. Specifically, Sancerre is an excellent Sauvignon Blanc to consider from France’s wine country in the Loire Valley.
6 Canadian Bacon
Sometimes preparing a ham for hours is not appealing. That’s one of the situations where cooking up some fresh Canadian bacon is a sound icon. Once your taste buds can enjoy the bacon, how can you add to the experience with wine?
There are a few ways to go. You can open a bottle of sparkling wine from the Champagne wine region or a lower-priced champagne alternative. Aside from sparkling wine, an off-dry Riesling is also a good option. The residual sugar in sparkling wine and off-dry Riesling help to offset the salty meat so you can enjoy the rich flavor of each bite.
Didn’t See Your Favorite Wine Mentioned?
Some people get very strict about their wine that pairs with ham preferences. In reality, food-wine pairing is subjective. If you happen to love a certain kind of wine, then you should have that bottle. There is a downside to having favorites in the wine world, though. If you only drink Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, you’re missing out on most of the world of wine. If you want to embrace the “Travel By Glass” philosophy – using a drink as a way to expand your horizons – you’ll take the time to try new wines like organic Merlot wine. Or maybe you’ll try a lesser known red wine like Cabarnet Franc with your next meal – see this guide for details: What Pairs With Cabernet Franc?
On your wine journey, you don’t have to come up with wine ideas on your own. In a fine restaurant, feel free to ask for tips from the wine director. If you cannot find the wine director, sneak a peek at Big Macs & Burgundy: Wine Pairings For The Real World before you head out. This fantastic wine book covers wine grapes, sweet foods, and every kind of wine pairing you can think of.