Pairing Wine With Ham

Ham is one of the most popular meats in America, so you won’t be shocked to hear that we are asked about “ham and wine” pairings at least once a day. 

There is both good and bad news for anyone asking this question. The good news is that ham is a really versatile meat that can be paired with nearly every wine and taste delicious.

The bad news is that ham is a really versatile meat that can be paired with nearly every wine and taste delicious.

However, if you are looking for a long list of ham and wine pairing recommendations then you have come to the right place. Today, we have 12 ham and wine pairings for you to sample, experiment with, and fall in love with. 

Related: Pairing wine with pork chops.

Pairing Wine with Ham

Which Type Of Ham Are You Cooking? 

Before we start, there is one question we need you to answer. What type of ham are you cooking? Are you cooking a glazed ham or a cured ham? 

Because of the potent flavor a glaze can add to ham, you have to be careful when pairing wine. You won’t want to pair the meat with the wine. Instead, you will want to pair the glaze with the wine

Below are our delicious recommendations.

Glazed Ham 

As we mentioned above, it is important that you know the flavor notes of your glaze before you start trying to pair it with a bottle of wine. Fruity but sweet glazes pair perfectly with crisp white wines.

While tart fruit glazes work well with a medium-bodied red. Honey glaze can pair well with either. 

Glazed Ham and Wine
The wine pairing will be reliant on the glaze of the ham, and not the ham itself.

Rieslings – Rieslings pair well with everything, so it is never a bad idea to open a bottle at the dinner table. This wine is tangy, spicy, and smoky all at once. It has notes of pink pepper, citrus, and oak. It is one of the most refreshing wines you will ever taste. 

Muscat – Muscat, shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Yes, because you have notes of lychee, mango, and orange blossom. This is the perfect wine for anyone with a sweet tooth or who wants their drink to taste more like juice than alcohol.  

Gewürztraminer – Rose, Apricot, and sweet spices – just talking about Gewürztraminer is making us thirsty. This light, sweet, but surprisingly complex wine is best paired with a lighter glaze, like honey or orange.

This wine evokes Spring and makes a great accompaniment to ham piled on top of fresh baby potatoes. 

Malbec – If you like Merlot then you will probably love a Malbec. It has everything a Merlot has – the cherry, the black pepper, the notes of plum – but it has a much lighter aftertaste and is less dry.

This wine is going to pair well with any glaze but it is particularly good with honey. Sometimes, juxtapositions in flavor can be jarring, but Malbec and honey come together like a dream. 

Grenache – This is a medium to light-bodied red with a high alcohol count. It is perfect to pair with any sweet and fruit glaze. Sweet and fruity describes the wine itself very well – its most clear notes are cinnamon and violet blossom. 

Pinotage – This is at the opposite end of the spectrum to the Grenache. A Pinotage is rich, bold, and spicy. You will get notes of licorice, black pepper, and tobacco. It has an oaky yet sweet aftertaste that will leave you reaching for another glass. 

Cured Ham 

Cured ham tends to be rich, smokey, and salty. So, you want to avoid a shy wine. The good news is that you can pair cured ham with either a medium-bodied or a full-bodied red or a full-bodied white wine. 

Cured Ham and Wine
Because cured meats tend to be salty and smokey, they pair quite well with medium-bodied to full-bodied red wines. A full-bodied white wine is also recommended. Stay away from light-bodied white wine pairings as the cured meat will overpower it.

Pinot Noir – Even if you aren’t a red wine lover you have probably been handed a Pinot Noir at some point in your life. This wine has notes of plum, cherry, and licorice. It is lighter than a Merlot or a Malbec but it can still steal the show. 

Cabernet Sauvignon – This is one of the most complex wines you will ever try. It has notes of both green bell pepper and green peppercorn. It also has notes of dark chocolate. This wine manages to perfectly toe the line between being drenched in flavor and being utterly refreshing. 

Chardonnay – 13.3% of all wines brought in America every year are Chardonnays. So, it is safe to say that this wine has a lot going for it. It has notes of papaya and lemon that blend perfectly together and with a savory meat dish. Beware, once you have one glass it can be hard to stop. 

Pinot Gris – Speaking of delicious white wines, we have to mention a Pinot Gris. This is a spicy white wine that has notes of pink pepper and citrus. It is not incredibly full-bodied but it is refreshing and pairs perfectly with salty cuts of cured ham. 

Merlot – We have mentioned a Malbec in this article, so of course, we should also mention Merlot. Merlot has a sharp, spicy taste that can cut through even the most sweet-tasting glazes.

Will it pair well with every sweet glaze, no, but it will go well with the mildly sweet, tart, and honey glazes.   

Rieslings  – (see the section above for a full description) we told you Rieslings paired well with everything. 

Emma Miller