Gentleman’s Guide To Wine Pairing With Ham

Explore the art of wine pairing with ham in our gentleman’s guide and elevate your dining experience.

Wine pairing is an art that can elevate any gastronomic experience.

Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or simply treating yourself to a gourmet meal, finding the perfect wine to complement your dish is essential.

In this gentleman’s guide, we will explore wine pairing specifically with ham – a delicacy loved by many.

From the different types of ham to the most suitable wines, we will discuss the art of finding that harmonious union between these two delights.

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Table of Contents

Unforgettable Experience with Ham and Wine Pairing

In front of a vineyard in March, 2020, just before the COVID craze intensified, we toured the vineyards of Bordeaux where we savoured a velvety Pinot Noir paired with a succulent honey-glazed ham.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, the wine’s fruity notes fused with the ham’s savoury sweetness, creating the tastiest of flavours.

Each sip of wine accentuated the richness of the ham, while the meat’s saltiness enhanced the wine’s complexity.

The serene ambience, coupled with the perfect harmony of wine and ham, elevated our gathering to an unforgettable experience.

It was a moment where time seemed to stand still, and every sip and bite revealed a new layer of culinary delight, etching a memory to be cherished.

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Understanding Ham: Types and Flavours

Before we embark on our wine and ham pairing journey, it is important to understand the different types of ham and their distinct flavours.

There are several popular kinds of ham, including:

  • Prosciutto
  • Serrano
  • Jamón ibérico, and
  • Country ham

Each variety has its own characteristics that influence the ideal wine pairing.

Let’s take a closer look:

Prosciutto: This Italian dry-cured ham is delicate, often buttery, and has a slightly sweet flavour. It pairs well with lighter wines that won’t overpower its subtle taste.

Serrano: Originating from Spain, Serrano ham is dry-cured and exhibits a nutty and slightly salty taste. It pairs excellently with medium-bodied wines that can enhance its flavours.

Jamón Ibérico: A prized Spanish ham made from acorn-fed pigs, Jamón Ibérico is both complex and indulgent. It requires a wine that can match its depth, such as a full-bodied red.

Country Ham: This Southern American ham boasts a robust and salty flavour. It pairs wonderfully with wines that possess boldness and a touch of sweetness.

With an understanding of these different hams and their distinct flavour profiles, let’s discuss wine pairing proper.

Related: How to Pair Wines with Salmon

Options for Wine Pairing with Ham

Red wine pairing with ham for a delicious experience

1. Prosciutto Ham and Sparkling Wine Pairing

Prosciutto’s delicate flavour and sweet undertones make it a natural companion for sparkling wines.

The effervescence and refreshing acidity of sparkling wines, such as Prosecco or Champagne, provide a delightful contrast to the richness of prosciutto.

The carbonation helps cleanse the palate between each bite, leaving room for the next delicious morsel.

2. Serrano Ham and Rosé Wine Pairing

The nutty and salty flavours of Serrano ham harmonize beautifully with rosé wines.

Rosé’s fruity and crisp nature cuts through the fat content of the ham, enhancing its taste.

Opt for a dry or off-dry rosé, such as those from Provence or Rioja, to complement the Serrano ham perfectly.

Related: White Wine Types and Characteristics

3. Jamón Ibérico and Rioja Wine Pairing

The complexity and richness of Jamón Ibérico call for a wine with character and depth.

Enter Rioja, a region in Spain renowned for its bold and structured red wines.

Rioja’s Tempranillo grape varietal with its earthy, smoky, and fruit-forward notes pairs splendidly with the intensity of Jamón Ibérico.

The two complement each other, creating a symphony of flavours.

4. Country Ham and Gewürztraminer Wine Pairing

Bold and salty, country ham is best matched with a wine that can balance its robustness.

Gewürztraminer, a white wine with a honeyed and floral character, provides a compelling contrast to country ham’s saltiness.

The wine’s intricate flavours bring out the complexity of the ham, resulting in a dynamic pairing.

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5. Red Wine Pairing with Harm

Pairing red wine with ham can be a delightful experience.

The saltiness and richness of ham are complemented by the fruit-forward and often slightly spicy characteristics of many red wines.

Light to medium-bodied reds like Pinot Noir or Zinfandel can provide a nice contrast to the savoury flavours of ham, while their acidity helps cut through the meat’s richness.

Additionally, the tannins in red wine can interact with the protein in ham, creating a harmonious balance of flavours.

Ultimately, the pairing of red wine with ham offers a satisfying and nuanced culinary experience for enthusiasts of both wine and fine cuisine.

Also Read: Red Wine Types and Characteristics

Beyond the Classics: Unconventional Wine Pairing with Ham

While the classic pairings mentioned above are undeniably delightful, wine pairing with ham doesn’t end there.

For the gentlemen seeking unconventional but equally impressive pairings, read on.

1. Prosciutto and Chenin Blanc

For a twist on the classic prosciutto pairing, consider Chenin Blanc.

This white wine varietal boasts a range of flavours, from stone fruit to honey, making it an excellent candidate for prosciutto’s mild and slightly sweet taste.

The wine’s acidity complements the saltiness of the ham flawlessly, offering a unique combination of flavours.

2. Serrano and Manzanilla Sherry

Shake up your Serrano pairing routine by exploring the world of fortified wines.

Manzanilla Sherry, a Spanish fortified wine, is known for its briny, herbaceous, and slightly nutty characteristics.

These flavours mirror the taste profile of Serrano ham, creating a unique and unforgettable pairing experience.

Related: The 4 Basic Types of Wines

3. Jamón Ibérico and Malbec

While Rioja is the classic choice for Jamón Ibérico, there are other red wine options worth exploring.

Malbec, with its ripe fruit flavours, velvety texture, and balanced tannins, provides an alternative yet equally satisfying pairing.

This Argentinian wine adds an element of dark fruitiness to the already decadent Jamón Ibérico.

4. Country Ham and Zinfandel

Pairing country ham with Zinfandel wine creates a delightful contrast.

The wine’s bold, fruity flavours and peppery notes complement the saltiness and richness of the ham, while its robust tannins stand up to the meat’s intensity.

This pairing offers a harmonious balance of flavours, making it a memorable culinary experience.

Related: The Wines that Pair Well with Lamb

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of wine goes best with ham?

The kind of wine that goes best with ham is a light to medium-bodied red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Zinfandel.

Does Chenin Blanc go with ham?

Chenin Blanc can complement ham, especially when it’s honey-glazed or served with a fruit-based sauce.

Does beer or wine go with ham?

Both beer and wine can go well with ham, but wine, particularly light reds or rosés, often pairs better due to their acidity.

What wine goes with grilled ham and cheese?

Grilled ham and cheese can be paired with a light-bodied red wine like Beaujolais or a crisp white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc.

Final Words from Gentsways

Mastering the art of wine pairing with ham adds a touch of sophistication to any gentleman’s dining experience.

Understanding the diverse flavours of ham and the twists of different wine varietals opens up a world of culinary possibilities.

Whether opting for a bold Zinfandel to complement country ham or a delicate Chenin Blanc to enhance the richness of prosciutto, the key lies in finding a balance that elevates the dining occasion, creating memorable and refined gastronomic experiences.