November 29, 2021 by Arden Montgomery
Best Wine for Ham
Ham, like wine, is a single-word descriptor for an entire genre of edible delights that come in all manner of colors, flavors and preparations. And ham, like wine, can serve as either a festive centerpiece at a holiday dinner, or a casual weekday snack.
Throughout the year, ham has graced our lunches as a welcome protein accompaniment to white bread and baby carrots. And with the winter months upcoming, ham begins to take on a more formal guise, donning all manner of michelin-star-ready glazes, presentations and sides to get it picture-ready for your Christmas party ‘gram posts.
You know what we’re going to say next: however you take this iconic cut of pork, there’s a unique bottle of wine to go with it — whether whole-roasted on an open fire, or sliced up at the deli counter and served on rye with mustard.
How to pair wine with ham
In thinking about ham, you’re pairing your wine more with the preparation rather than the meat itself. Pork is a not-quite-light, not-quite-dark meat that does have a distinctive flavor all its own. However that flavor is still subject to the curing and cooking process, and that will influence your viticultural selections more than anything else.
Salty, dry hams like prosciutto or iberico are typically quite heavy and bold, however they’re served, and love being balanced out by something light, dry and bubbly. Prosecco is a good go-to, but you might also reach for a bottle of effervescent Lambrusco.
Smoked hams like black forest or the ones you bake at home are going to be more succulent and a little less saline, and go very well with a sweeter red like a Pinot, or a Grenache-based rosé.
Sweet hams, like the glazed hock that will be making the rounds this December, are well met by fruit-forward wines that also skew a little dry, such as a Merlot or Chenin Blanc.
And if that wasn’t enough guidance for you, here are a few favorites from the Argaux collection that were destined for porcine pairing. Cheers!
Best red wine for ham
- 2017 Produttori del Barbaresco DOCG – $52
A warm and fruitful experience, just like the year in which it was made. This Barbaresco is deep, dark, fruity, full, and utterly royal feeling at all points in the tasting journey. Pairs incredibly with a bowl of this rustic Pasta Alla Papalina.
- 2019 Gouchas Luján de Cuyo Malbec – $22
Jammy, fruity, with a little bit of chocolate and tobacco on the palate, this delicious Malbec — served chilled — could grace your table as a special delight at a dinner party, or take a place in your pantry as your go-to accompaniment for your weekly ham and swiss.
- 2018 Tenuta Ornellaia ‘Ornellaia’ Bolgheri – $240
Sprinkle some gold leaf on your ham once it emerges from the oven, because this auspicious Italian wine is a big deal, and everyone needs to know. Made from hand-picked grapes and aged for a total of 36 months before it becomes available to you, this masterpiece of balance across both taste and texture should be the centerpiece this holiday season, with whatever elaborate chef-made ham you acquire as a side.
- 2020 Cargaux Syrah – $45
Our collaborative Syrah with Chase Carhartt and Storm Wines invites the imbiber in through the nose with aromas of coffee, blackberry, pepper and delicate flowers. Once you take a sip, you’ll stay for the meatiness, the cedar tones, the cranberries and the herbs. Grown, pressed and barrelled in South Africa, we think it would pair perfectly with this South African Glazed Gammon.
- 2018 Girolamo Russo ‘A Rina’ Etna Rosso – $42
A volcanic terrier you can taste through notes of sweet cherry and plum as well as smoky leather and tobacco. It makes us think of nibbling Dolce di Ciliegie in your grandparent’s living room after filling up on Penne Alla Valdostana.
- 2019 Sandlands Lodi Red Table Wine – $38
This small (small, small) production wine is at once gritty, smooth, acidic and fruity, and just waiting to make its debut at your next meal, whether a holiday feast or a midnight munch. Pairs well with, well, anything, really. But we think it really shines next to a Croissant au Jambon.
Best white wine for ham
- 2018 Domaine Rougeot ‘Clos des 6 Ouvrées’ Bourgogne Blanc – $38
This beautiful — affordable — Burgundy Blanc tastes expensive and indulgent with juicy and long-lasting notes of green fruits, baking spices and flowers. In reality it is utterly accessible and would make an excellent toasting wine for the next small holiday gathering with yourself and a few friends.
- 2019 Tenuta di Castellaro Bianco Porticello – $21
Refreshing, summery, and with a delightful structure owed to its volcanic minerality. This wine pairs well with fresh veggies, hard cheeses, and especially a cheap and cheesy Hawaiian pizza.
Best rosé wine for ham
- 2020 Chateau Barbebelle Aix-en-Provence ‘Héritage’ Rosé – $28
Everything about this rosé screams elegance and delicacy — from the perfume fragrance, to the fruity-and-floral palate, to the voluptuous shape of that gorgeous bottle. But don’t let her pale color and feminine finesse fool you. This wine loves food, and it’s powerful enough to elevate any glazed ham you set before her.
How Argaux can help
There’s so much pressure around the holidays to lay out foodie feats with new and inspired gastronomic adventure dishes that have pre-selected rockstar vintages to go alongside them. The truth is that wine is just as at home next to a store-bought spiral ham as it is with that 20-step recipe you got off of Bon Appetit.
Vanessa Price figured that out way before the rest of us, and then wrote a book about it. Her book, Bigs Macs & Burgundy, was the inspiration behind our Food and Wine Pairing 101 Kit, which teaches budding oenophiles to pair wines with their favorite weekday treats. So whatever you’re putting on the table this winter, Argaux can help you pick a wine to go with it (plus you’ll get a copy of Vanessa’s book!) Check out this and other amazing wine gifts today.