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What Wine Goes with Ham? Everything You Need to Know

Welcome to the world of culinary pairings where the right choice of drink can transform a meal into an exquisite experience. In this exploration, we delve into a question that's not only common but also crucial for enhancing your dining pleasure: "What wine goes with ham?" Whether you're hosting a lavish dinner party or enjoying a cozy meal at home, the combination of ham and wine is timeless. This blog aims to demystify this pairing, guiding you through the best wine selections for ham, ensuring that your next meal is not just a dish but a symphony of flavors. Let’s begin.

A Bottle of Wine with Ham

What Are the Different Types of Hams and Their Unique Flavors?

Ham, a staple in many cultures' cuisines, is not just a singular entity; it comes in various forms, each boasting its unique flavor profile.

  • First up is the classic honey-glazed ham. This type of ham is coated in a sweet honey glaze before being baked or smoked. The result is a perfectly balanced blend of salty and sweet flavors that will have your taste buds singing.
  • Next, we have prosciutto, also known as Italian dry-cured ham. This variety is made from the hind leg of a pig and is typically air-dried for at least 9 months. It has a delicate and slightly nutty flavor that pairs well with a variety of fruits and cheeses.
  • For those looking for a more intense flavor, there's Black Forest ham. This type of ham comes from Germany and is smoked over pine or fir wood, giving it a distinct smoky taste. It also has hints of juniper berries, making it perfect for pairing with stronger flavors like mustard or pickles.
  • Last but certainly not least, we have country-style ham. This cured meat is traditionally made in the southern United States and is known for its salty and tangy flavor. It's often served as thick slices or cubed in dishes like biscuits and gravy.

Each type of ham, with its distinct flavors, necessitates careful consideration when selecting a wine pairing.

What Kind of Wine Goes with Ham? Red or White?

The age-old debate of red versus white wine finds its place in ham pairings too. Generally, the choice between red and white wine hinges on the ham's preparation and seasoning. So, what wine pairs with ham perfectly? A rule of thumb is that lighter hams pair well with white wines, whereas richer or smokier hams tend to harmonize better with red wines. The key is to balance the ham's saltiness and richness with the wine's acidity and fruitiness.

White Wine vs Red Wine

Best Red Wines for Ham

When it comes to pairing wine with ham, red wines are often the go-to choice for many people. The rich, savory flavors of ham can be complemented perfectly by certain red wine varietals. Whether you’re planning a holiday dinner or just looking for a tasty meal combination, here are some of the best red wines to pair with ham:

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir, renowned for its elegant light body and delicate fruity undertones, is a perfect match for a wide range of ham types. Its subtle earthiness, combined with hints of luscious cherry and tangy raspberry, beautifully enhances the flavors of both smoked and baked ham without ever overpowering them.


Rosé, often overlooked, can be a delightful and surprising pairing for ham. Its crispness and light berry flavors perfectly complement the rich and succulent nature of ham. Whether it's a sweet glazed ham or a savory smoked ham, the refreshing contrast of the rosé adds an extra layer of complexity to the dining experience. The fruity notes of the wine bring out the natural sweetness in the ham, while its acidity cuts through the richness, creating a harmonious balance on the palate.

Sparkling Red Wine

When it comes to pairing ham with wines, sparkling red wines like Lambrusco offer a delightful and unique twist. With their gentle bubbles and subtle sweetness, they not only complement the rich flavors of the ham but also add a refreshing and invigorating element to the combination. The effervescence of the wine brings an extra layer of texture and liveliness, creating a truly sensational experience for your taste buds.


Zinfandel, renowned for its bold and fruity profile, is an excellent choice to pair with hams that boast stronger flavors, such as succulent honey-glazed or delectably spiced versions. The wine's distinctive peppery notes beautifully complement the ham's inherent sweetness and aromatic spices, creating a harmonious and delightful culinary experience that is sure to impress your taste buds.

Bottles of Red Wine

Best White Wines for Ham

The crisp and refreshing flavors of white wines can help to cut through the richness of the meat, creating a well-balanced and delicious flavor combination. Here are some of our top picks for the best white wines to enjoy with your holiday ham:


Riesling, especially off-dry or slightly sweet variations, is an excellent choice to pair with ham. Its high acidity and the subtle hints of apple and peach in its flavor profile beautifully complement the saltiness of the ham, creating a harmonious balance that enhances the overall taste experience. The refreshing and vibrant characteristics of Riesling further elevate the flavors, making it a delightful and satisfying combination for your palate.

Sparkling White Wine

Another classic pairing for ham is sparkling white wine, such as Champagne or Prosecco. The effervescence and crispness of these wines cut through the richness of the meat, cleansing your palate and preparing it for another delicious bite. The bubbles also add a festive touch to your holiday meal, making it feel even more special and celebratory.

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc, known for its remarkable versatility, can be the perfect companion to a delectable ham. In drier expressions, this white wine boasts delightful notes of apple and pear, while in sweeter styles, it offers a tantalizing combination of honey and ginger flavors. With its wide-ranging profile, Chenin Blanc presents a flexible and exciting pairing option that is sure to elevate your culinary experience to new heights.

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio, a white wine varietal, is renowned for its delightful lightness and refreshing crispness. With its delicate citrus and green apple undertones, this versatile wine is an ideal pairing for a wide range of lighter ham dishes. The subtle fruity notes of Pinot Grigio beautifully complement the savory flavors of the ham, creating a harmonious balance that will tantalize your taste buds. Give your meal an extra touch of elegance and sophistication by savoring the delightful combination of Pinot Grigio and succulent ham.

Bottles of White Wine

Tips on How to Pair Wine with Ham

When pairing wine with ham, consider these factors for a harmonious combination:

  • Flavor Profiles: Choose wines that complement the ham's taste. Sweet or fruity wines balance the saltiness, while earthy wines pair well with smoky flavors. For example, a honey-glazed ham goes nicely with a slightly sweet Riesling.
  • Acidity Levels: Opt for wines with higher acidity to refresh your palate and cut through the richness of the ham. Crisp whites or tangy reds offer a pleasant contrast to the saltiness.
  • Body Types: Match the wine's body with the weight of the ham. Full-bodied wines complement rich, heavy hams, while light-bodied wines suit delicately flavored ones.
  • Tannin Levels: Avoid overpowering ham dishes with high-tannin red wines. Choose lower-tannin reds like Pinot Noir that won't clash with the ham's texture and flavor.
  • Aging Potential: Consider the wine's aging. Aged wines enhance the taste experience with well-cured or smoked hams, while younger, vibrant wines pair better with fresher, lighter ham dishes.


In conclusion, understanding what wine goes with ham can transform your meal into an extraordinary culinary experience. By considering factors like flavor profiles, acidity levels, body types, tannin levels, and aging potential, you can expertly pair your ham with the perfect wine. Whether it's a festive occasion or a casual dinner, the right wine choice will complement the ham, elevating the flavors and creating a harmonious dining experience.

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