Wine Savvy on March 16, 2016 0 Comments Few foods are more complementary with wine than meat, and this is especially true for ham. Because ham can be prepared in so many different ways, there are many wines to choose from when it comes to ham and wine pairings. Whether you are preparing a delicious spiral ham for a Sunday dinner or a classic honey-glazed ham for Easter or Christmas, you may not be certain whether a bold red wine or a crisp and light white wine is the better match. Making the right wine choice for your family and your dinner guests may seem like a daunting task, but following the guide below may help you better understand how to successfully prepare ham dishes in a way that makes them the perfect match for a wide variety of wines. 1. Choose a Ham Flavor Element Before you can choose the right wine for your ham dish, you should consider the overall flavor of ham and how you plan to prepare it. Most classic ham dishes are baked, and as a result, it gives the meat a slightly sweet-salty flavor. The ham can be made even sweeter with a variety of fruit glazes, such as pineapple or orange and with other sweet coatings, such as honey. Other flavor elements to consider are whether you are using a smoked ham or if any coatings or flavors have been added beforehand that might affect its flavor. Since the flavor, body and sweetness of the wine you choose to pair with your ham will have a direct effect on how the meat will taste, you should consider what key features you are looking for in a wine before you choose a ham dish in order to create a tastier pairing. Keep in mind your preferences for these aspects of a wine: Overall flavor (sweet or tart) Body (robust or light) Acidity (crisp or heavy) Considering these general wine factors will make it easier to choose and prepare a ham dish. 2. Wines to Avoid and Wines to Utilize While there many different types of wines to choose from, adding one to your dinner table that best complements the flavor of ham can be tricky. Not all flavors bring out the best in ham dishes, no matter how they are prepared, so knowing which wine pairings make an excellent match with a few of today’s most popular recipes makes the choice a simpler one. For example, since most ham dishes have a salty-sweet flavor that is very distinct, you should avoid any wines that have a heavy, full-bodied flavor, as they will drown the ham’s taste and overtake the palate. Hams that are prepared with fruit or honey glazes should not be paired with tart wines, such as a red or cherry pinot noir, as this flavor will clash heavily with the glaze’s sweetness. Overall, wine choices that make the best paring with ham include rose or white Zinfandel and a light, crisp and dry white wine such as a green apple Chardonnay, as the flavor of apples will greatly complement both smoked and baked hams and their glazes. Strong Ham and Wine Pairings Lambrusco, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Grenache wines and smoky ham White Zinfandel, Riesling, Moscato, Shiraz wines and salty-sweet wines Sparkling wine, dry Sherry, dry Madeira and dry-cured ham 3. Ham Preparation Ideas Once you know what you want the most out of a wine to pair with your ham dish and you know which wines to avoid, you can then prepare your dish in a way that will create a wine and ham pairing made in porcine heaven. One of the most popular ways to prepare ham is to coat it with a honey glaze, and if you choose this method, there are several wines that are a perfect match for its sweet and moist flavor. You can also go with black forest smoked ham, which also offers a lot of strong wine pairing options. Honey Glazed Ham and Wine Pairing Traditionally, a ham over five pounds is appropriate for glazing. First, score the ham and add cloves if desired. Then, combine ¼ cup of dark corn syrup, 2 cups of honey and 2/3 cup of sweet and salted butter to create the glaze. Baste the ham every fifteen minutes or so and bake it at 375 degrees for 80 minutes. A California pinot red wine is a fine match for this dish, as it contains a variety of sweet and fruity flavors and aromas without being too bold and complements the flavor of the cloves as well. Black Forest Smoked Ham and Wine Pairing If you want to prepare a ham with a minimum amount of fuss, then consider a black forest smoked ham. These non-glazed hams are already cooked and need only a bit of preparation before you can bring them to the table. To begin, preheat your oven to 350° and then note the size of your ham. A black forest ham should be cooked in a roasting pan at about ten minutes per pound until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 125° to ensure the meat is cooked thoroughly. Because black forest ham is not as sweet as glazed hams, tart and rose wines make fine wine pairings with it. Just a few wine types you might want to consider here are red Zinfandels, pinot noir (all but cherry, which is simply too tart to pair well with any ham), and even sparkling wines such as Lambrusco. Because there are so many different wines that go well with these classic ham dishes, you are sure to discover one that you can enjoy again and again. 4. Become a Pairing Enthusiast While some wines make an excellent complement to a variety of ham dishes, this does not mean you should be afraid to experiment with some of your favorite wines once you have completed the steps above. In the future, if you have a favorite sweet red wine that you believe might not go well with your classic honey-baked ham recipe, sample a bit of the wine with your dinner. You might be surprised at the results, and if even if the experiment is a failure, you will have a good time discovering new wines and new ham recipes. As you do so, take the time to make notes in your recipe book or on your note cards which wines go best with each ham dish. This makes it a snap to pick up the right wine on an evening or during a special occasion when you plan to cook a ham and you will know which similar wines make a good pairing with your dish if your usual wine is not available. Now that you know which steps will help you make the best match with your favorite ham recipes, you are ready to discover some amazing flavor combinations on your own.