If you're preparing a ham recipe, you might be wondering what the right wine to pair with ham is. We've got the best wine pairings for a variety of ham dishes to help you have the best food and wine experience.
Ham, with its succulent and savory profile, is a versatile dish that can be prepared in various ways. Whether you're enjoying a glazed holiday ham or savoring a simple ham sandwich, the right wine can elevate each bite.
In this blog post, we'll explore the best wine pairings for different types of ham dishes.
Wine pairing tips
When considering the perfect wine pairing, there are a few different things to keep in mind. Here are the most important factors to keep in mind when choosing the right wine to pair with ham.
- Cooking method:
- Consider how the ham is prepared -- whether it's glazed ham, smoked ham, spiced ham, or simply roast ham. The preparation style greatly influences the flavor profile and should guide your wine choice.
- Sweetness Level:
- If the ham has a sweet glaze or is honey-baked, consider the sweetness of the wine. An off-dry or slightly sweet wine, such as a Riesling or a fruity Chardonnay, can complement the sweetness of the ham without overwhelming the palate.
- The acidity of the wine plays a crucial role in cutting through the richness of the ham. Wines with high acidity, like Sauvignon Blanc, and bright acidity, like sparkling wines, can provide a refreshing contrast. White wines and sparkling wines are a particularly excellent choice to pair with fattier cuts of ham.
- Intensity of flavor profile:
- Match the intensity of the wine with the intensity of the ham's flavors. For example, a Zinfandel can stand up to a heavily spiced or peppered ham with bold flavor or smoky flavor. Meanwhile, a more delicate Pinot Noir may be better suited for a lightly seasoned ham.
- Side Dishes:
- Consider the accompaniments to the ham. If a holiday meal includes sweet and fruity flavors, choose a fruity wine that complements those flavors. If the sides are spicy or have more savory flavors, opt for a full-bodied wine that harmonizes with those elements.
- The occasion and setting can influence your wine choice. For a festive holiday dinner, sparkling wines or Champagne can add a celebratory touch. For a casual meal, a versatile and approachable wine like Pinot Noir may be a great fit.
White wine pairings with ham
White wine can be a great choice to pair with ham. Here are the three best wines that can be a delicious pairing with ham dishes.
- Chardonnay - A full-bodied Chardonnay with buttery notes is a great wine that complements the richness of baked or honey-glazed ham. The wine's acidity helps balance the sweetness of the glaze, creating a harmonious flavor profile.
- Riesling - For a sweeter touch, opt for a slightly sweet Riesling with ham. This pairing works exceptionally well with brown sugar ham and honey-glazed ham, as the wine's acidity cuts through the sweetness.
- Sauvignon Blanc - When enjoying a lighter preparation of ham, such as a cold ham salad, consider a dry white wine. A crisp Sauvignon Blanc, for example, has citrusy and herbal notes that provide a refreshing contrast to the saltiness of the ham.
Other wines that can pair well with special occasion ham for Easter dinner or Christmas dinner include Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Gris.
🥂 Try our Air Fryer Ham recipe paired with a full-bodied Chardonnay.
Red wine pairings with ham
Depending on the type of ham, red wine can also be a good pairing for ham.
- Pinot Noir - The versatile Pinot Noir is an excellent choice for ham dishes, particularly those with smoky or savory flavors. Its bright acidity and red fruit notes complement the meat without overpowering it.
- Zinfandel - For a more robust ham preparation, such as a spiced or peppered ham, turn to a Zinfandel. The wine's bold fruit flavors and peppery undertones enhance the spiciness of the ham, creating a dynamic pairing.
- Merlot - If you're serving a ham with a fruit-based glaze, like cherry or apricot, a medium-bodied Merlot can be an ideal companion. The wine's soft tannins and plum-like notes complement the fruity elements of the dish.
Rosé and sparkling wine pairings with ham
In addition to white wines and red wines, rosé and sparkling wines can also make a great match for delicious ham dishes.
- Rosé wines - Serving a charcuterie board? Opt for a dry rosé wine. Ham pairs well with a dry rosé wine's balance of fruitiness and acidity. It's the perfect match for a summer picnic featuring ham sandwiches or a cold ham salad.
- Sparkling wines - A bubbly sparkling wine are incredibly versatile and can complement a wide range of ham preparations.
Try our recipe for Charcuterie Cones with ham slices for a fun rosé or sparkling wine pairing!
While personal preferences play a significant role in wine pairing, overly tannic or heavily oaked wines may not be the best companions for a ham pairing. These characteristics can clash with the saltiness of the meat or overpower its delicate flavors.
While there are no strict rules, some general guidelines can enhance your wine and food pairing experience. For smoked ham, consider wines with a bit more intensity, like a smoky Syrah or a robust Zinfandel. For glazed ham, white wines with a touch of sweetness, such as Riesling or Chardonnay, can complement the sweetness of the glaze. Ultimately, the best pairings depend on personal taste preferences.
If your ham is served with sweet and tangy sides like cranberry sauce, a slightly sweet Riesling can be a delightful choice. If the sides are more savory or spicy, consider a red wine like Pinot Noir or Zinfandel to complement the overall flavor profile of the meal. The goal is to achieve a harmonious balance between the wine and the entire holiday feast.
Pairing wine with ham is a delightful culinary adventure that allows you to explore different flavors and combinations. I hope you found this food and wine pairing guide helpful. Cheers to discovering the perfect wine and ham pairing for your next culinary adventure!
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🍷 Have you tried one or more of the wine & food pairings listed here? If so, leave a comment below and let us know how they paired together!