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The best wines to pair with ham Add to ...

The question

Do you have recommended wine for ham?

The answer

Indeed I do. In fact, I have several, because ham comes in a variety of styles.

You mention ham without a qualifying adjective, such as "smoked" or "cured," so I'm assuming you mean the ham traditionally found on tables in Canada, which is baked or, in the case of pre-cooked and shrink-wrapped varieties, often boiled. It's pink and, in flavour as well as colour, falls somewhere between white meat and dark. This offers much latitude where beverages are concerned. Among whites, I like chardonnay. New World versions, especially from Australia, California, Chile and British Columbia, often exhibit a dense tropical-fruit essence, which matches the saltiness of the meat. (Smart cooks don't bake ham with pineapple for nothing.) In the red category, I favour Beaujolais, a light, fruity, crisp wine based on the gamay grape. But you could go with a rosé, too, preferably one with a smidgeon of sweetness to it.

For smoked ham, I like riesling. There's something about riesling and smoked anything that seems to work.

Cured hams, such as prosciutto from Italy or serrano from Spain, are different in two main respects. They're saltier and tend to be sliced thinly and served cold as part of an appetizer or charcuterie platter. The accompanying wine should deliver a good tug of acidity. This requirement points us in the direction of Europe as well as to New World regions with cooler climates, including Niagara. Basic Italian reds, such as barbera and Valpolicella, sing with this type of ham. Spanish Rioja or - better, if you like the taste - dry sherry are good choices. As far as I'm concerned, there are never enough good excuses to crack open a bottle of chilled dry sherry.

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