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The pairing of wine with various food is a tradition of sorts that has been growing in popularity ever since it started. There are many reasons as to why these wine pairings are necessary, so much so that it is labeled as a pivotal part of the restaurant dining experience. Restaurants that serve alcohol with their food seem more eclectic and cosmopolitan, as well as seeming of a higher quality. The art of pairing wine with food is not an exact science, despite having a well-thought-out logic behind it, yet it leaves enough room for the creativity of the consumer to shine through.

Easter ham

Why Is Wine Pairing Important?

Wine pairing is becoming increasingly popular across all restaurants and is also starting to become a more common occurrence for home cooks who want to celebrate a meal with friends or family. A restaurant or diner can argue the importance of this by saying that alcohol and food are a great way to boost revenue and profits when sold together, and the statistics prove that this is true. Yet, that would not explain why home cooks are also starting to join in on this or why customers are so infatuated with buying drinks alongside their meal.

The reason for this iconic pairing being so popular is because of how it changes your perception of the meal. When paired correctly, both your wine and food will taste different in a really good way. The flavors will bounce off of each other, so to speak, and allow you to notice different tastes that you hadn’t experienced before.

While the process is still quite subjective, there are obvious links to when red wines or white wines are better suited to a meal. Using the correct wine with a certain meal will enhance both the flavors of the wine and the food beyond belief.

Not only is the food going to taste better, but drinking any type of alcohol over a meal is a nice way to socialize when with friends or family. While over-indulgence will get you drunk, having a little bit can help clear the air and raise everyone’s spirits.

When in a restaurant, pairing wine with your food is also a nice way to feel adventurous while not risking anything as the waiter will help you make the right choice. This can enhance the atmosphere and help you feel more connected to the environment and enjoy yourself more.

Family eating italian dinner and cheers in a fancy restaurant.

How To Pair Wine With Ham

While wine pairing is considered by many as an art, there is a lot of logic behind it. There is enough logic and thought put into wine pairing that some unspoken rules and methodologies have been created to help other people with their choices. The thought put into wine pairings can be separated into two categories.

On one side you have the contrasting pairing which is used to contrast the flavor of your food, the balance is found somewhere in the middle where you get the best of both worlds. The other category is known as congruent pairing. This is where your wine should match your food and create a balance where the shared flavor profiles enhance one another.

As for the methodologies that are followed by many, there are on average 9 of them. Some places will have other ideas to share, whereas others will have less and leave more up to you. The basics for pairing wine with food are as follows;

  1. The wine should be more acidic than your food
  2. The wine should be higher in sugar content than your food
  3. The wine should match the intensity of your food
  4. Red meat and red wine pair the best together
  5. White wines pair better with fish and chicken
  6. The fat found in food is likely to balance out the bitterness in some wines
  7. Wine should be matched to the sauce of your meal
  8. White, rosé, and sparkling wines are used for contrasting pairings
  9. Red wines are usually used for congruent pairings

While it may seem like there are a lot of rules and guidelines that you must follow when it comes to wine pairing, know that this is not the case. You are free to make your own choices. If you really dislike red wine, then you are not expected to drink it for the sake of maintaining a correct pairing. On the other hand, if you are not a drinker of wine at all and instead prefer whiskey or beer, then you can drink that instead.

What Wine Pairs Best With Ham?

As mentioned, wine pairings are used to either match or contrast with the flavor of the food. Ham can be prepared in many different ways that change the flavor and texture of it, meaning you can easily find a wine you like and cook your ham differently to pair them together. While ham is salty and rich, it can sometimes be glazed in honey which will make it very sweet. This can change the type of wine that pairs with it, so it is best to know how the ham will be prepared before you decide on a wine.

Pinot Noir

Pinot noir is light and acidic and is a wine that is loved by many. While it naturally pairs best with smoked ham, depending on where the wine is from, this ideal pairing can change. Pinot Noir from Oregon, for example, will pair great with herbs and spices thanks to an earthy component it has. On the other hand, Pinot Noir from New Zealand or Californian will be better suited to a fruit glaze such as a cherry glaze.

Cabernet Sauvignon

While there are white wine alternatives that cut through fat just as well, red wine lovers need options too. If you have a particularly fatty ham and need the perfect glass, then a Cabernet Sauvignon will pair perfectly. It is one of the best wines for any red wine enthusiast.

Best wine to pair with ham: 10 amazing ideas 1

Prosecco

Prosecco is a great addition to any selection of wine as it is light and not too dry. It pairs wonderfully with any slightly sweet-seriously sweet ham and can be drank and enjoyed by lots of people, even if they are not a huge fan of wine in general. The easy-to-drink texture of this sparkling wine and the bubbly nature of it will lift all the salt and fat from the ham which will make it taste a lot nicer. While it pairs better with a sweet glaze, prosecco is worth having a bottle of no matter the occasion as it tends to be quite versatile.

Viognier

This white wine has a fruity taste of peaches and can easily compliment any sweet and salty ham you are having. Any fruity glaze will be benefitted from a bottle of Viognier but it works especially well with a peach glaze. Some would predict this to be overkill, but it really is not. The flavors work so well together and enhance each other. The aroma of the wine is quite deep, thanks to a lot of the bottles being aged in oak, which pairs really well with a sweeter glaze such as cinnamon, brown sugar, or maple syrup.

Sauvignon Blanc

If you are a large fan of dry wines and are in need of a great suggestion, then I present Sauvignon Blanc. This acidic white wine cuts right through the salt and fat of your standard savory and smoky ham, helping you perceive new flavors unbeknownst to you before. If you are having a honey-glazed ham, then a Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux is worth looking into as it is blended with Semillon and pairs really nicely with honey.

Best wine to pair with ham: 10 amazing ideas 2

Pinot Gris

This full-bodied fruity wine is a great pairing for a sweet baked ham. The flavors that are immediately recognizable are apples, pears, and peaches. This lets the wine work really well with any fruity glaze, but also allows it to be sweet enough to pair and contrast with soft spices and meat rubs.

Dry Riesling

A lot of people will argue that Riesling is one of the best wines to pair with ham. Some would go as far as to say that Riesling is proof that wine goes with ham. This is a very acidic white wine that compliments the salty flavor profile of ham incredibly well. While the dry bottles are great, you can easily swap it out for an off-dry bottle of Riesling and still have a great experience. Dry is used as a way to mention the sweetness of the wine. Dry correlates to a low amount of sugar, meaning it will be a bitter wine. Off-dry is slightly sweeter but still pairs really well with the salty flavor of ham.

Grenache

This medium-bodied fruity red wine is perfect if you have a lot of people who prefer red wine. The red wine grapes used are so versatile that this bottle is known to be a crowd-pleaser. If you have a lot of people to accommodate for and don’t want to risk getting the wrong wine for any of them, they are sure to universally like this bottle. Despite being a fruity wine, there are herb notes in here too that allow for it to pair with a lot of different ham meals. This bottle is especially useful for any upcoming Christmas dinner as it pairs so well with a Christmas ham.

Domaine Turenne Camille Rosé

It is hard to easily define the flavor of rosé wine as it can be so varying. This particular bottle is considered one of the best for food pairings and is also incredibly affordable compared to other wines. This gorgeous pink wine is a blend of red wine grapes including those used for making Grenache. The elegance of this wine is down to the superb peach and apricot flavors, as well as the limited interaction the winery had with making it. They let this wine be as natural as possible so that you can taste it as it is meant to be. The wine is known best to pair with uniquely flavored hams such as grilled orange ginger ham served with dijon and apricot preserves. It may seem outlandish, but if you try it, you will not regret it.

The Chocolate Block

While the name might not sound as fancy or elegant when compared to the other bottles on this list, the Chocolate Block is by no means of any lower quality than them. This dark and vibrant red is made from a blend of 5 different grapes from South Africa and is stunningly cheap for what it is. This dry-style rich wine has flavors of dark chocolate, spicy wood, and dark red fruits, all balanced by an ideal acidity. The best pairing for this would be a baked ham glazed by some equally dark brown sugar.

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Is Wine Worth Pairing?

If you are on the fence about if you should bother pairing wine with your food, or just drink whatever you want, then that is fine. It may seem overwhelming or just like a lot of hassle to decide the perfect wine for each meal you have out. The choice is completely yours but wine can be paired with so many meals and really enhance their flavor. Wine can easily be paired with fish, lasagna, and sushi, as well as almost any cuisine. It might not be worth it for you for every single meal, but it is worth trying at least once.

FAQs On Pairing Wine With Ham

What color wine do you serve with ham?

A lot of people will say that ham is technically white meat, so white wine should be paired with it. But thankfully, that is not the case. Ham is perfect for being paired with a lot of different wines and the preparation and glazing is what you should use to dictate the color of your wine.