Ham at Easter dinner is a common tradition the world over, and the American table is no exception. However, ham tends to be a tricky match for wine. Cooks in many parts of the world, particularly those who have been curing ham and making wine for centuries, have mastered this task. Prosciutto, jamon and presunto — with their straightforward smoky, salty flavors — are not frequently mismatched at Easter tables in Italy, Spain and Portugal.
It’s primarily at the American table that things get complicated. When you add ingredients such as honey and cloves, or serve a ham with a brown sugar-pineapple glaze, the once salty ham becomes a salty-sweet canvas of conflicting flavors. The wrong wine pairing will result in competing flavors and aromas that can accentuate bitterness and tannins found in wine.
Look for light red wine without overpowering tannins and white wine without searing acidity. A few of the best matches are merlot, pinot noir, rose, Riesling, gruner veltliner, Beaujolais and Chablis.
- 2010 Cline Cool Climate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, California (about $15 retail)
- 2009 Oriel Or tolan Falkenstein Gruner Veltliner, Austria (about $25 retail)
- 2010 Hogue Cellars Genesis Riesling, Washington (about $14 retail)
- 2010 Georges Duboeuf Chateau de Vierres Beaujolais Villages, France (about $15 retail)
- 2009 Bell Wine Cellars Yountville Merlot, California (about $36 retail)
- 2009 Jean Marc Brocard Monte de Tonnerre Chablis, France (about $44 retail)
- NV Delamotte Brut Rose Champagne, France (about $99 retail)
- 2009 Presqu’ile Vineyards Pinot Noir, California (about $64 retail)