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Your Guide to What Wine Goes With Ham

April Sullivan
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Dinner Party Pairings: What Wine Goes With Ham?

Whether you're planning a dinner party for your closest friends, want to impress a new special someone in your life, or simply want to expand your pairing knowledge, the options for wines that pair with ham are nearly endless. 

The key is to choose a focal ingredient or overall flavor profile and then pair wines accordingly. 

When choosing a protein, classic wine pairings are chicken with Sauvignon Blanc, salmon with Zinfandel, and beef with Malbec, but what about ham?

Let's explore the best wines to pair with ham. 

Wine Pairing With Ham 

Ham is a unique protein in that it is often sweet, salty, and rich. These characteristics mean that it's often best paired with wines that offer a touch of sweetness and plenty of acidity. 

Depending on the ham you get and how it's prepared, there can be quite a bit of variation. So depending on what you have planned for your ham dish, you can choose from a range of wines, including light reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines. For example, if you are serving a heavily smoked ham, you'll want a different wine than if you plan to serve a sweet-glazed honey ham. 

On that note, let's dive into how ham is prepared and how that influences what wine goes with ham. 

Ham + Wine — Preparation Methods and Flavors

Wine pairing with ham begins by taking into account production methods, including wet-cured, smoked, or dry-cured (heavily salted). If you get your hands on a quality dry-cured, aged ham, like prosciutto or speck, opt for a sparkling or crisp white wine to cut through the saltiness. If you're serving up a charcuterie board, you can go one step further, pairing your wines of choice with appropriate cheeses. 

Learn more: Wine & cheese, please! 7 Tips on how to pair this classic combo

If you're preparing a glazed baked ham, enjoying Canadian bacon, or any other sweet, salty ham, pair these options with sweet or dry wine, such as Moscato or a Riesling. You could also probably get away with an Australian Shiraz. 

More of a smoky ham fan? If so, opt for a medium-body fruity red wine. There are plenty of options to choose from, including Grenache-based reds, a classic Zinfandel, or an easy-drinking Pinot Noir. 

If You're In Doubt, Go for a White Wine

The great thing about ham is that it can be enjoyed with so many types of wine, including both reds and whites. 

That said, white wine is always a safe bet. Ham is generally salty and may be sweet or spicy. So, a semi-dry white wine is always an optimal choice. More specifically, it's no coincidence that ham and many German varieties go hand-in-hand. Thanks to its high acidity, a bottle of Riesling will always do the trick as it pairs well with salty foods. 

Other options are styles of Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Prosecco. So there are indeed many choices for what wine goes with ham. 

If you have your heart set on red, stick with a Pinot Noir, Gamay, or Tempranillo, focusing on the flavor profiles of your dish. Serving a ham that's flavored with herbs and spices? Opt for a wine with earthy characteristics. Serving a fruit-glazed ham? Then choose a white wine that offers notes of peach or a red that's bursting with flavors of red fruit. 

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