Wine Spotlight - "Best Wines To Pair With Ham For Christmas Dinner"

Courtesy of Wine Folly

Dry-Cured, Aged Ham

Thinly-sliced, bold flavored hams with a chewy texture and typically higher salt content.

A classic example of this style of ham, that nearly all of us know, is the Italian favorite, Prosciutto. You’ll find ham in this style typically served in micro-thin sheets as a melt-in-your mouth appetizer.

  • Prosciutto
  • Bayonne Ham
  • Serrano Ham
  • Jamón Ibérico
  • Speck

Recommended Wines:

The high saltiness factor and dryness of the meat begs for sparkling wine. You’ll also do very well with a sparkling Rosé or even a sparkling red. Other great pairing options include still Rosé, crisp minerally and herbaceous white wines, dry Sherry (perhaps a Fino or Manzanilla Sherry), and dry Madeira (such as a 5-year Verdelho or Sercial Madeira).

Courtesy of Wine Folly


Savory and Smoky Ham

Medium to thick cut sliced ham with a medium to bold flavor that’s not sweet.

This style is typically smoked but ranges in size from full-sized fresh hams that you bake in the oven to pre-sliced ham that you buy at the grocery store. This less-sweet style of ham could also include processed ham like Mortadella and Spam. Since this style of ham is juicier and not as salty as a dry-cured ham, it is one of the better choices to match with lighter red and rosé wines.

  • Black Forest Ham
  • Country-Cured non-glazed Ham
  • Smoked Ham Hocks for Soup
  • Mortadella
  • Spam

Recommended Wines:

With less sweetness and more texture, you’ll be delighted with a medium-bodied fruity red with moderate acidity. There is a great range of wines to choose from in this style and here are a few favorites to know: Grenache-based reds (such as the GSM blend), Zinfandel, new-world style Pinot Noir, Zweigelt (from Austria!), Dornfelder (Germany), deeply-colored Rosé, The Corvina-based red wines of Valpolicella, Aged Tempranillo, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Primitivo-Negroamaro blends from Puglia, and “Secco” (dry) Lambrusco.


Sweet and Salty Ham

These are typically medium to thick cut hams with a chewy texture and noticeably sweet flavor.

Think Canadian bacon. Since this style of ham is sweet, you’ll want to match with wines that are also sweet or taste very fruity. You might be surprised by some of the recommended pairings but they taste outstanding!

  • Canadian Bacon
  • Honey Baked Ham
  • Glazed Baked Hams
  • Mortadella
  • Char Siu (Chinese Barbecue Pork–Technically not ham, but fits the flavor profile!)

Recommended Wines:

The best way to pair with foods that have sweetness is to have a wine with sweetness too. On the more dry side, pick a Riesling, Chenin Blanc or White Zin/Merlot. On the sweeter side go for Moscato, Brachetto d’Acqui, Vin Santo and White Port. You can probably get away with more new-world style reds including Australian Shiraz, South African Pinotage and American Petite Sirah.


Happy Holidays! 

Cheers, Michael