Ham is a versatile entree, finding its place in everything from formal Easter dinners to relaxed summer picnics. Because of this versatility, ham also accommodates numerous wine pairings. The key to creating a perfect pairing lies in accenting the specific ham recipe -- for instance, a sweet honey-glazed ham calls for a different wine than a smoked ham.
If you're serving a wine with a sweet glaze, such as honey or pineapple, complement it with with the subtle, somewhat bitter fruit flavor of an Italian pinot grigio, or, for a bolder, richer combination, a French pinot noir. The salt in the ham really brings out the fruit flavor in wines such as pinot gris; as the sweet wine and glaze work against the salty ham, they strike a balance of flavor. For a more subtle pairing, try a dry German riesling with your sweet ham. This crisp, sparkling wine has just a touch of fruit flavor, allowing the sweet ham glaze to shine through.
Pinot noir and riesling also pair well with savory hams, such as smoked or baked entrees. To create a contrast of sweet and savory, go with Chilean, Italian or Californian moscato. This white, fizzy wine typically features hints of citrus, apricots or pears, which offsets the salty or smoked flavor with a refreshing sweetness. For ham served with tangy mustard, use the lightly sweet flavor of a Californian zinfandel to create contrast, or complement the mustard with syrah, which often has an earthy, peppery edge.
Though less common than sweet glazed or savory smoked entrees, ham sometimes lends itself to spicy dishes. In this case, French rose wines fit the bill, as they cool down the spicy dish with bright, fruity flavors such as strawberry, cherry and watermelon. For similar reasons, moscato works here as well, as do Chablais and light red Beaujolais varieites.
Some diners prefer beer to wine, and ham's versatility does not disappoint when it comes to beer pairings. Lighter beers with spicy yeast and roasted malt flavors pair nicely with sweet glazed hams -- hefeweizen and Belgian tripels serve well here, while German schwarzbier offers a complementary flavor for those who prefer dark brews. For more savory hams, malty, full-flavored beers such as Irish stouts and English browns intensify the ham's flavor, while lighter pilsners and pale ales help tone down salty ham.
Which Cheeses Go With Honey Ham?
How Do I Roast a Picnic Ham?
Menu for a Ham Dinner
What Kind of Beer Do I Pair With Greek ...
What Kinds of Food Do You Serve With ...
What Food Pairs Well With Sangria?
What Do You Garnish Ham With?
How to Cook a Tavern Ham
What Goes With BBQ Ribs?
Wines to Serve With Cajun or Creole Food
How to Remove a Salty Taste From Sliced ...
What Do You Serve With Lobster?
What Wine Pairs With Chicken Alfredo?
What Kind of Crackers Do I Serve With ...
What Meat Goes Well With Boiled Cabbage?
How to Cook a Toupie Ham With Pineapple
Desserts to Pair With Cabernet ...
Red Wines That Need to Be Chilled
How to Fully Cook a Hickory Smoked Ham
How to Cook Sauerkraut and Kielbasa ...
With a diverse professional background and a decade of experience as a freelance writer, Dan has contributed lifestyle content -- from fashion to travel to fitness and more -- to publishers including Chron, Fortune, Sony, GlobalPost, ModernMom, Moviefone, Salon.com, Techwalla and dozens of others.