What Wine Goes with Ham? 10 Harmonious Pairings

Are you serving ham this Christmas? Then stick around to find out what wine goes with ham. Ham is one of those great foods that for some reason we only have around the holidays. Like turkey, why do we only eat it at Thanksgiving? With Christmas around the corner, ham is likely going to be on your table. There’s lots of ways to prepare ham; sweet with honey or maple syrup, with fruit like pineapples, oranges, or peaches, or spicy styles with Cajun spices or spicy mustard. The way you prepare it will determine the best ham wine pairing.

  • How to pair wine with ham
  • White wines that pair with ham
  • Red wines that pair with ham
  • What wine goes with ham depending on how its prepared
ham wine pairing

Red or White Wine with Ham?

Good news! You can have both red or white wine with ham, even rose! Even though pork is the other white meat, ham can easily pair with red wine as well. The best wine with ham will depend on the preparation and the glaze.

What White Wine Goes with Ham?

White wine with ham is the safest bet. Ham is salty and can be made sweet or spicy. All of that goes great with an off-dry style of white wine. Is it a coincidence that the best wines with ham are traditionally German varieties? I think not. Read on. To fully understand the concepts behind food and wine pairing, check out my eBook, A Sommelier’s Secrets to Wine and Food Pairing.

Riesling with Ham

Riesling is hands-down the best wine with ham. You can stop reading now and just go buy yourself a delicious bottle of off-dry Riesling. Riesling has very high acidity which is a great complement to salty foods like ham, it can be off-dry which will pair gorgeously with any honey, AND the flavor profile is perfectly paired with peaches! When shopping for Riesling, remember that not all of it is sweet, although, in this case, a slightly sweeter style is *chef’s kiss*, you need to know what to look for. Here’s a guide to help you determine the sweetness in a wine by the label.

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Gewürztraminer with Ham

Another great wine pairing with ham is Gewurztraminer. Just like Riesling, there are off-dry styles of Gewurztraminer which will complement any fruit glazes. Gewurztraminer can be really perfumy and spicy which I love with any spice-rubbed ham or a gingered ham. Spice is tamed by sweet so this is really a win-win. My favorite Gewurztraminers are from Alsace which is a region in France by the German border.

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what wine goes with ham

Pinot Gris with Ham

Is it a coincidence that Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and now Pinot Gris are all white wines that grow in Germany/the German border and Germany is famous for their ham? Not a coincidence at all. If it grows together, it goes together. If you’re into more of an apple/pear/peach wine, Pinot Gris is for you. Pinot Gris is halfway between the first two picks- more acidity than Gewurz and fuller bodied than Riesling. Try a Pinot Gris from Alsace or from Oregon. FYI- Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape variety. VERY generally speaking, if it’s labeled as Pinot Grigio the winery is trying to tell you it’s made in a lighter, crisper Italian style. This would also be a good choice for a ham wine pairing.

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Sauvignon Blanc with Ham

If you’ve been reading this so far and thinking, nope, I need a bone dry wine, then a classic Sauvignon Blanc if for you. Sauv Blanc has really great acidity to cut through the salt and fat of ham. Try a SB from Bordeaux which is often blended with Semillon to up the honey factor if you’re having a honey-glazed ham.

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Viognier with Ham

Viognier is all peaches, all day. Well, not literally, it just smells like peaches. If you’re making your Christmas ham with a peach glaze, you need some Viognier. Viognier is often times aged in a bit of oak, and to me, smells like old-fashioned donuts, therefore Viognier goes great with ham with a maple syrup/brown sugar, cinnamon type glaze, too.

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Prosecco with Ham

Really, you should always serve your guests some kind of sparkling wine, especially if your guest is me. Prosecco goes great wine ham because it’s light and not-too-dry. The bubbles will lift the salt and fat and the off-dry nature of Prosecco will be great with any sweet glazes.

what red wine goes with ham

What Red Wine Goes with Ham?

You’re bound to have some guests over for Christmas that prefer red wine. No worries! The right red wine goes with ham, too! The key is to keep the body of the wine light to medium, and make sure the fruit components of the wine and food pairing match. Let’s go!

Pinot Noir with Ham

Everyone loves Pinot Noir. It’s light, it’s got some great acidy, and it is a great wine to go with ham. Pinot Noir goes best with a smoked ham or ham with a cherry glaze. Pinot Noir from Oregon and Burgundy has an earthy component to it that will complement herbs and spices. Choose a Pinot Noir from New Zealand or California to bring out red fruit flavors in fruit glaze.

Gamay with Ham

Yes, I’m another one of those sommeliers that’s slightly obsessed with Beaujolais (Beaujolais is the region in France, Gamay is the name of the grape they grow there). Gamay is super fruity, light, and delicious. Of course, Cru Beaujolais is ideal but if you have any 2020 Beaujolais Nouveau laying around, this is your last chance to drink them.

wine with ham

Tempranillo with Ham

Tell me a country that does better with a pig’s leg than Spain. I’ll wait. Ham and jamon; same, same. Tempranillo is a natural choice with ham. Tempranillo can be quite full-bodied if that’s your style. It’s fruity, spicy, and has awesome structure and acidity. Tempranillo would be best with a ham prepared with a bold spice rub.

Grenache with Ham

Grenache is such an underrated food wine. This grape really is so versatile and it’s a crowd pleasure. Grenache would be my choice if you have a lot of different palates to please. Grenache has great red fruit characteristics as well as some herb notes, too. Grab a few bottles of Grenache for your Christmas dinner and everyone will be happy with your ham wine pairing.

Conclusion: What wine goes with ham?

The best choice for a ham wine pairing depends greatly on the preparation and the sauce or glaze. Inherently, ham is a leaner type meat that can go with light to medium bodied wines. The salty aspects of ham pair best with wines with higher acidity. If you choose to prepare your ham with a sweet glaze, a off-dry or sweet wine is the best choice. Sweeter foods are complemented with sweeter wines. If you spice your ham, again, an off-dry style would go best to tame any spice.

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