What Type Of Wine Pairs Well With Ham?

David J Sharp
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When it comes to pairing wine with meat, there are many factors to consider, from the cut to the cooking method to the seasoning. Ham, in particular, can be a tricky meat to pair with wine due to its sweet and salty flavor profile. But fear not, as we are here to guide you through the process of choosing the perfect wine to complement your ham.

To begin, it’s important to understand the flavors of ham. Ham is a cured meat that can range from sweet to salty, depending on the curing process. Additionally, the meat itself can be quite fatty, which can also impact the wine pairing.

By understanding the flavors of ham, you can choose a wine that will complement and enhance the flavors of the meat, rather than clash with them. So, let’s dive in and explore the best wine pairings for ham.

Understanding the Flavors of Ham

You’re probably familiar with the savory, salty taste of ham, and understanding its flavor profile will help you select the perfect complement to your meal.

The flavor of ham can vary depending on the type of ham, how it’s cooked, and what spices or glazes are used. Generally, ham has a rich, meaty flavor with a salty and sometimes slightly sweet taste. It can also have a smoky or earthy taste if it’s smoked or aged.

When choosing a wine to pair with ham, you’ll want to consider these flavors and choose a wine that complements them.

To get started, it’s helpful to use some wine tasting tips to identify the flavors in your ham. Take a bite of ham and let it sit on your tongue for a moment before swallowing. Pay attention to the flavors that come through, such as saltiness, sweetness, meatiness, or smokiness.

Then, take a sip of wine and let it sit on your tongue before swallowing. Notice the flavors in the wine, such as fruitiness, acidity, or tannins. By comparing the flavors in the ham and the wine, you can choose a wine that enhances the flavors of the ham and creates a delicious pairing.

Choosing the Right Wine for Your Ham

Discover the perfect wine to complement the flavors of your savory ham. When it comes to pairing wine with ham, you want to choose a wine that can balance the saltiness and richness of the meat.

Here are three things to keep in mind when selecting the right wine varietals:

  1. Consider the type of ham you are serving. If you have a honey-baked ham, a white wine with a touch of sweetness, like a Riesling, can help bring out the honey flavors. For a more savory ham, like a prosciutto, a dry red wine like Pinot Noir or Chianti can pair well with its saltiness.

  2. Think about the preparation of the ham. If you are serving a smoked ham, a red wine with smoky notes, like a Syrah or Zinfandel, can complement the smoke flavor. For a glazed ham, a white wine with citrus notes, such as a Sauvignon Blanc, can help bring out the sweetness of the glaze.

  3. Take into account the occasion and the guests. For a casual gathering, a more affordable wine can be appropriate. However, if you’re hosting a formal dinner party, a higher-end wine can elevate the experience.

When it comes to choosing the right wine to pair with your ham, paying attention to these details can help you find a wine that perfectly complements the flavors of your dish.

In the next section, we’ll explore some of the best white wines that pair well with ham.

White Wines that Pair Well with Ham

Looking for the perfect complement to your savory ham? Check out these white wines that bring out the best flavors of your dish.

When it comes to pairing white wine with ham, you have a few options to consider. Chardonnay and Riesling are two popular choices. Chardonnay is a full-bodied wine that pairs well with salty and savory flavors. It has a buttery taste with hints of vanilla and oak, which can complement the smokiness of the ham.

On the other hand, Riesling is a lighter and more acidic wine that can balance out the sweetness of the ham. It has a fruity flavor that can enhance the flavors of honey-glazed ham.

When selecting a white wine to pair with ham, you should also consider the sweetness level. Sweet wines, like a Moscato or a Gewürztraminer, can balance out the saltiness of the ham. However, if you prefer a drier wine, a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio can provide a crisp and refreshing taste that can cut through the richness of the ham.

Ultimately, the best white wine pairing for ham comes down to personal preference and the specific flavors of the ham you’re serving. If you’re not a fan of white wine, don’t worry – there are also plenty of red wines that complement ham.

Red Wines that Complement Ham

If you’re interested in elevating the flavors of your ham dish, consider exploring the world of red wines that can bring out the richness and complexity of your meal.

When it comes to pairing red wine with ham, you have a few options to consider. One of the most important factors to keep in mind is the balance of the wine’s flavor profile with the saltiness and sweetness of the ham.

Bold red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Malbec, can stand up to the richness of the ham, while lighter reds, such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais, can offer a more subtle complement to the flavors.

Tannic vs. fruity is another aspect to consider when it comes to red wine pairings. Tannic wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Nebbiolo, have high levels of tannins that can create a dry, almost bitter flavor. These wines can be a good pairing with salty, fatty hams as they help to cut through the richness and cleanse the palate.

Fruity red wines, such as Merlot, Zinfandel, or Grenache, have a sweeter taste profile that can complement the saltiness of the ham. Exploring rosé pairings can also be a fun option, as the lightness and fruitiness of the wine can add a refreshing contrast to the richness of the ham.

As you consider which red wine to pair with your ham dish, keep in mind that personal preferences can vary widely. It’s always a good idea to experiment with different wines and find the pairing that works best for your taste buds.

Additionally, there are other wine pairings to consider for ham, including white wines, sparkling wines, and fortified wines. Let’s explore some of these options in the next section.

Other Wine Pairings to Consider for Ham

You might be surprised by the unique and delightful wine pairings that can enhance the flavors of your ham dish, so don’t hesitate to branch out and try something new.

While red wines are the most popular choice, sweet wines can also be a great pairing with ham. A sweet Riesling or Gewurztraminer can balance the saltiness of the ham and bring out its subtle sweetness. You can also consider a sweet sherry or port wine for a more intense flavor experience.

Sparkling wines are another option to consider when pairing with ham. The effervescence of a champagne or prosecco can cut through the richness of the ham and refresh your palate. A brut champagne or dry prosecco can balance the saltiness of the meat and complement its savory flavors. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try a sparkling rosé or Lambrusco for a slightly sweeter and fruitier pairing.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to wine pairings, so have fun experimenting and discovering your favorite combinations!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some non-alcoholic beverage options that pair well with ham?

Looking for non-alcoholic alternatives to pair with your ham?

There are many sweet pairings that can complement the saltiness of the ham.

Consider serving a sparkling apple cider or a fruity iced tea to balance out the flavors.

You could also try a ginger ale or a lemonade with a hint of mint for a refreshing twist.

If you’re looking for something a bit more complex, try a spiced hot cider or a cranberry juice cocktail with a dash of cinnamon.

Don’t let the lack of alcohol limit your options, there are many delicious and satisfying non-alcoholic beverages that can perfectly complement your ham dish.

Can sparkling wines be paired with ham, and if so, what types work best?

Sparkling wines can be a great option to pair with ham, and there are plenty of Champagne alternatives to choose from.

When it comes to selecting the right wine, it’s important to consider the sweetness level. For example, a sweeter sparkling wine like Asti or Moscato d’Asti can complement the saltiness of ham, while a dry Champagne can balance out the richness of the meat.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of sparkling wines to find the perfect pairing for your ham dish.

Is there a specific type of ham that pairs better with white wines versus red wines?

When it comes to pairing wine with ham, the type of ham you choose will have a significant impact on which wine you should select. Generally speaking, white wines tend to pair well with lighter hams, such as prosciutto or Virginia ham. These hams are less salty and have a milder flavor profile, which pairs well with the acidity of white wines.

On the other hand, if you’re serving a more robust ham, such as a smoked or honey baked ham, you’ll want to opt for a red wine. The bold flavor profile of these hams pairs well with the richer, fuller-bodied flavor of red wines. It’s important to consider the wine acidity as well, as it can either complement or clash with the saltiness of the ham.

Ultimately, the key to a successful wine and ham pairing is to experiment and find what works best for your specific ham type and personal taste preferences.

Are there any vegetarian or vegan wine options that pair well with vegetarian/vegan ham substitutes?

If you’re looking for wine recommendations to pair with your vegetarian substitutes for ham, there are plenty of options available. Whether you’re a vegan or just looking for plant-based alternatives, you’ll be happy to know that there are wines that are vegan-friendly too.

One option is a vegan Pinot Noir, which is known for its light-bodied and fruity taste. This type of wine pairs well with vegetarian ham substitutes because it complements the flavors of the dish without overpowering it.

Another great option is a vegan Chardonnay, which has a buttery texture and goes well with dishes that have creamy sauces. These wine recommendations are just a few examples of how you can enjoy a delicious meal while staying true to your dietary preferences.

How does the cooking method of the ham (e.g. roasted, smoked, glazed) affect the wine pairing?

Pairing techniques are essential when it comes to wine and ham. The cooking method of the ham plays a significant role in deciding which wine to pair.

For instance, a glazed ham pairs well with a wine that has high acidity and fruity notes because the sweetness of the glaze is balanced by the acidity of the wine.

On the other hand, smoked ham has a bold and robust flavor profile, which requires a full-bodied wine with earthy flavors to complement it.

Similarly, roasted ham pairs well with a medium-bodied wine with fruit notes. Therefore, understanding the ham flavor profile and pairing techniques is crucial in selecting the right wine to enhance the overall dining experience.


Congratulations! You’ve unlocked the secret to a perfect ham and wine pairing.

Just like a harmonious duet, the right wine can elevate the flavors of your ham and make your taste buds sing.

Think of your ham as the lead singer, with its salty and savory notes taking center stage. But to create a truly exceptional performance, it needs a supporting cast. That’s where the wine comes in – it provides the harmonies and counterpoints to enhance the overall experience.

Whether you opt for a crisp white wine or a bold red, the key is to find a wine that complements the flavors of your ham without overpowering it.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different pairings and find what works best for you. Who knows, you might just discover a new favorite combination that will have you singing its praises for years to come.

So, cheers to a successful ham and wine pairing!

David J Sharp is a wine equipment expert, having previously worked with some of the best wine cooler manufacturers within the USA. Today he works as a full-time wine cooler and wine cellar consultant for small and large clients alike. You can find out more about LoveCraftWines here.

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