Wine is kind of the perfect alcoholic drink. A bold claim, for sure, but one that we think has a lot going for it. After all, not only can it drink on its own, but it’s also a phenomenal way of adding new flavors to your cooking recipes.
And with how many foods that wine goes with, that’s pretty incredible.
Of course, everyone has their favorite kind of food to have with a glass of wine. For many people, it’s
For us, there’s nothing quite like a good ham to go with a good bottle of pinot noir. This brings us to the point of this guide. If you’ve got the perfect ham recipe in mind, you’ll want to find a wine variety that is just as perfect to go along with it.
No sense in wasting good ham on some mediocre glass of white wine after all, right?
Well, that’s where this guide comes into the picture. We’ve collected the best wines, from white to red, sparkling to pinot grigio and noir, to accompany that amazing ham that you’re about to prepare!
What Types Of Wine Are Best For Ham?
The big question that many wine aficionados will often have when picking out a wine, is what type goes best with it. They all have such different characters, after all, so one may be better than the others.
Well, the answer to that, both great and frustratingly, is that they’re all great! Or at least, there’s no one group of wines, like white or red, that are generally better than others in this way. So, while we may point you towards fewer white wines than we do, say Pinot Noir,
As we’ll find out soon enough though, that doesn’t stop particular makes or brands of wine being better than others.
This might leave some home cooks and chefs annoyed, that the search isn’t easy to narrow down. But think of it this way: This just gives you more excuses to try and test a bunch of amazing wines for yourself with your favorite ham recipes!
While red wines are often considered the best, there are plenty of white wines out there that make for an amazing taste experience.
While the flavor of many white wines is often considered crisper, they’re also the wines that are the lightest in calories overall, making them a healthy wine option when considering drinks to go with your ham.
Plus, their light flavor makes them relatively neutral palate cleansers to go with a strong-tasting ham recipe.
For specific recommendations, try and keep your eyes peeled for any of the following white wine varieties.
A very popular white wine to grow in cooler environments, Gewürztraminer has been a very popular white wine variety in Germany for centuries, and with good reason.
Known for its light pink, even reddish tint in some examples, Gewürztraminer is known for having just a little tangy flavor to it, making it a very popular drink to pair with a strong cheese platter. Or, in our case, a ham recipe!
Thanks to its neutral flavor, we think that pretty much any kind of ham will be balanced nicely by the tangy, yet mellow, flavors that Gewürztraminer brings to the table. Quite literally, in this case!
Riesling has been a popular variety of wine in Europe for centuries.
Grown around the Rhine region in Central Europe, this means that many different nationalities and regions have had a chance to create their distinct characters and blends for this type of white wine.
French, German, Swiss, Belgian, and Hungarian varieties have all dominated the market at one point or another, but many Canadian and American varieties have also cropped up over the years, each with their flavors and characters.
In terms of specific recipes to try out, Riesling is a wine with a high acidity, and little to no sweetness to it. For a wine like this, we recommend sticking with saltier ham dishes to help counteract that strong flavor.
It’s kind of crazy just how many white wine varieties seem to have gotten their start in the Rhine or Germanic areas of Europe. Pinot Gris, despite its French name, is another example of this corner of Europe being the home of a stunning wine variety!
Pinot Gris is probably best known for its balance of both citrus and apple sweetness, while also maintaining a certain acidity to it. It’s almost like a balance between the Riesling and Gewürztraminer flavors that we covered before.
That also means that the exact palate of the ham recipe best for this drink is also varied. We’ve seen this particular variety go with just about every kind of ham preparation, from salt-curing, to smoking, to even wet-curing.
So, you’ve got options open to you if you choose to stick with this white wine type!
Every wine enthusiast knows that, when it comes to food, there isn’t a better wine than Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir is widely considered a food-friendly wine that goes with many different types of flavors, from Greek salads and rump steaks, and high-class dining to rural cuisine.
The earthy, smokey tones to its flavor, thanks in part to its stronger grape essence, makes it a very adaptable kind of palate for a good ham recipe.
We particularly recommend this kind of wine with a nice smoked ham, to get a nice balance of those smoky flavors.
While we don’t have a particular brand or style of Pinot noir to recommend in mind, we do suggest varieties from either New Zealand or the famed wineries of Willamette Valley. But really, almost any kind of Pinot noir that you can get your hands on will serve you well.
Some people might be wondering if red wines and Pinot Noir should be in the same section of this guide. However, we think that there’s plenty enough difference to justify these being two separate entries.
Partly because their flavor profiles are so different, and because there are just so many varieties of red wine to pick from!
We’re going from the Rhine region of Europe to the Mediterranean for the origins of this variety.
Zinfandel might be one of the oldest varieties of wine out there, with some cultivars and varieties having their origins as far back as 6,000 B.C.E, around the same time that Winemaking in Europe and Asia was being discovered.
History lesson aside, have both a strong fruity flavor to them, as well as a very smooth texture in the mouth and as they are swallowed, making them very different from the white wine varieties that we’ve covered, and even the Pinot noir that we’ve mentioned.
When considering your options, a rough cut of perfectly salted ham might just be the perfect spring for this kind of wine.
Rosé is a very interesting type of red wine because some argue that it’s not a ’real’ variety, being blended from both light and dark grape varieties.
While this might be a little confusing for some, the only question we’re concerned about is what kind of ham goes best with it. The high acidity in this variety makes salted and dry-aged hams the perfect go-to platter food for this kind of wine.
It’s another case of where we were with red wine and pinot noir here. Many people might consider Sparkling wine to be a variety of white wine. However, we think that, especially because of the different mouth feel, sparkling wines deserve their section in this guide.
Sparkling wine combines that tangy flavor of white wine with a bubbly texture to it, making those flavors explode in your mouth.
This bright flavor requires a nice salty ham recipe to go along with it.
Tips For Pairing Ham & Wine
So, aside from simply giving your recommendations for different types of wine with ham recipes, what other things should you be keeping in mind?
Check The Cut Of The Ham
One of the things that many people are surprised to learn is that the cut of meat used for pork/ham products can have a major impact on what kind of wine goes best with it.
Most people will be familiar with the concept of meat cuts at this point. You have your shoulders, you have the hind quarters, the belly cut, the back, the middle cut, and the head.
However, the way that fat marbles and gathers around different parts of the body can often affect which wine tastes best with them.
So, shoulder cuts often go best with a fruity light red wine, whilst the hind quarters pair best with a light white or sparkling wine, and the head goes with Rosé.
The middle, belly, and back cuts are often more considered a type of pork than true ham, but they do pair with a variety of different varieties.
(We recommend trying sauvignon blanc with a good slice of pork belly!)
Check The Ham Preparation Method Used
So, we’ve covered how the cut of ham or pork can seriously affect what type of wine is best for your meal, but there’s also the preparation method for the ham itself that can affect your choice of wine.
We’ve already mentioned these types of ham recipes, with salt, smoked, and wet-curing being the main preparation styles used with most ham products. Though others do exist.
Each one has its own distinct character:
- Dry-cured or aged ham like prosciutto goes best with a bright, tangy flavor, such as sparkling or white wine. Sparkling red or Rosé will work very nicely too.
- Smoked ham has a much richer and sharper flavor to it, with earthy undertones to it. For this one, we recommend strong-flavored wines such as Pinot Noir to complement that flavor sensation.
- Salty/sweet ham has a bright, almost sweet flavor to it, that needs something equally sweet to go with it. White wines are often the best choice, as their tangy flavor does not overpower the flavor of the ham. Red wines, while sweet, might be a little too fruity for some.
So, there you have it.
As we’ve already mentioned, there are arguably no best wines that pair ‘the best’ with ham, and it’s a process of experimentation that you should try out for yourself.
Hopefully, this guide has given you plenty to think about for your next ham meal!
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