Best Wine with Christmas Ham

As we approach the holiday season, what better way to celebrate than with ham, especially at Christmas? If you’re having a holiday meal, you’ll need to pair your ham with wine. But how do you know which wines go best with ham? Luckily for you, I’ve got some great recommendations.

I found six delicious wines that pair perfectly with just about any type of ham and why. Take a look at my list and start planning your holiday dinner.

Let’s get started!

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is a white wine that’s wonderful with your ham. The best chardonnays are dry and acidic, meaning that they’re tart and crisp, and refreshing and those qualities make them a good match for meaty flavors like ham.

I recommend the following Chardonnays:

Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay

This vineyard is located in California, and it’s a great place to start your search for a good Chardonnay with crab legs. This wine is made from grapes grown in the Sonoma Valley, where the climate is ideal for growing them. Fermented and aged in French and American oak barrels for richness, toastiness, and complexity.

J. Lohr Chardonnay

This California winery has been making award-winning wines for over 30 years, and this Chardonnay is no exception. They use grapes from their own vineyards in Monterey County, which means that you can be sure the quality is always high. This wine has a rich golden color with notes of citrus and vanilla on the nose.

Ladera Vineyards Chardonnay

This Chardonnay is made from grapes grown in the Santa Lucia Highlands, which is a cool climate area. It’s aged in French oak barrels for about 15 months before being bottled and has notes of vanilla and toasted hazelnuts on the nose.

Hagafen Cellars “Reserve” Napa Valley Chardonnay

Made from grapes grown in Napa Valley. It has a rich golden color with notes of citrus, vanilla, and toasted hazelnuts on the nose. It’s aged for about 18 months in French oak barrels before being bottled.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a red wine that has a light body and high acidity. It has a very fruity flavor, which means it is great with salty foods like ham. To get the best pairing experience, we recommend drinking Pinot Noir at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) to bring out its fruitiness.

I recommend any of the following Pinot Noir with your Christmas ham:

2016 Domaine Lecheneaut Les Pruliers

This is towards the more expensive end of the price range but no doubt this is an exceptional wine. Les Pruliers has a strong color. The wine offers aromas of fresh red fruit, wild prunes, and licorice. As it ages, it adds depth and roundness. It has aromas of cocoa, and smoked meat.

2019 Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge

More affordable is the Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge. This is an organic pinot noir that’s delicate, easy to drink, and naturally delicious. It has a fresh, crunchy, summer pudding fruit flavor with crisp acidity and just lip-smacking moreishness. And because it’s low in sulfur, it’s great for summer or winter drinking.

2018 Corazza Pinot Nero

At the lower end of the price range is the Pinot Nero. This is a unique wine from Friuli, a region in northeastern Italy. It’s made from the pinot noir grape and is unlike other pinot noirs you might be used to. It’s light, bright, and easy to drink.

Cabernet Sauvignon with glazed ham

Cabernet Sauvignon is bold and full-bodied with a spicy flavor. This wine is aged in oak barrels, which gives it a rich, earthy taste. It has a long finish, making it the perfect companion for your glazed ham.

I suggest one of the following with your ham:

Substance ‘Cs’ Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

From the winery itself, “Classic Cabernet Sauvignon. Currant, blackberry, cigar box with touches of chocolate, cedar, and pencil lead. Full flavored & just so damn good. I should raise the price!”

Château Lynch-BagesPauillac (Grand Cru Classé) 2016

It exhibits a deep red color with notes of dark fruit, cassis, blackcurrants, and a distinctive hint of mint. On the palate, it is full in body with ripe tannins and cassis throughout. The finish is long.

Flat Top Hills Cabernet Sauvignon

This is a rich, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. It is distinctly dark fruit on the palate with cocoa and vanilla notes. It has gentle spices like nutmeg and cassis. The finish is smooth, long, and velvety.

Riesling with honey-baked ham

Riesling is a white wine with high acidity and dryness, which makes it perfect for pairing with ham. Honey-baked hams are often sweet, but they are also sour at the same time. It’s the right balance of sweet and sour that makes Riesling such a great match for this dish.

If you decide to go for Riesling, I recommend one of these:

Georg Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Riesling Kabinett 2017

This Kabinett is a fresh, crisp wine with lingering sweetness balanced by tart lemon-lime acidity. Delicate wisps of smoke and earth lend touches of complexity throughout, adding dimensions to its fruity character.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese

Spätlese Riesling is richer and more intense in flavor than Kabinett. It comes with a lively minerality that perfectly balances the bright white peach and lemon fruit you’ll find here. Worth seeking out.

Ransom Sunnyside Vineyard Riesling (Willamette Valley of Oregon)

From the vineyard themselves, “This single vineyard, old vine bottling from the South Salem Hills is a classic, terroir-revealing Riesling. Opening with fresh fruit aromas of key lime and pineapple, the palate offers vivid acidity and flavors of Meyer lemon zest and candied ginger wrapped around a mineral vein. The wine finishes fresh and bright, with a beguiling note of honeysuckle blossom. A delight to drink now, but also exceedingly age-worthy.” 

Sangiovese with brown sugar-glazed ham

Sangiovese is a very dry Italian red wine, which is great because it has enough acidity to cut through the fat in ham. If you’re not familiar with Sangiovese, try it out, it’s delicious. Sangiovese pairs well with brown sugar-glazed ham because it has a lot of acidities and a deep color that will complement the sweet sauce on your pork.

Here are some excellent Sangiovese you can search out that will pair with your Christmas ham:

Chiara Condello ‘Le Lucciole’ Romagna Sangiovese Predappio Riserva

Critic tasting note: (2018 vintage) “Full-bodied and elegant, this opens with enticing, delicate scents of fragrant blue flowers, ripe plum, botanical herbs, and dark spice. Smooth, structured, and elegant, the savory palate delivers ripe black cherry, star anise, and crushed mint framed in tightly knit, refined tannins. Fresh acidity keeps it balanced. Though it’s already enjoyable, it will offer several more years of pleasure. Drink through 2030. Kerin O’Keefe” – 93/100Wine Enthusiast

Leonetti Cellar Sangiovese (USA)

Critic tasting note: (2018 vintage) “This wine is a shift from recent vintages, initially showing aromas of nori and tar, opening to reveal dried cherry and leather. The flavors bring a lot of elegance, without as much overt acidity and tannin structure as this offering usually displays. Sean P. Sullivan” – 88/100Wine Enthusiast

Altamura Sangiovese (Napa Valley)

Critic tasting note: (2004 vintage) “Altamura has tackled this extremely difficult wine for years. They’ve settled on a style that’s soft and silky, with complex flavors of cherries, dates, plum skins, cocoa and pepper, and the weight of a Pinot Noir.” – 89/100Wine Enthusiast

Vouvray with a smoky ham

If you’re looking to pair wine with ham, look no further than Vouvray. This area of France is known for producing crisp, dry white wines that are great with meaty dishes like ham. The smokey flavor of the ham will complement the dryness of this wine nicely.

Here are a couple of great examples you might want to try:

Domaine Huet Vouvray ‘Le Mont’ Premiere Trie Moelleux

Critic tasting note: (2010 vintage) “This will be a wonderful wine. Already, it is fine, with lovely acidity, bright and richly sweet at the same time. Yellow fruits mingle with honey, pear, almonds, and the intense sweetness of botrytis.” – 97/100Wine Enthusiast

Domaine Huet Vouvray ‘Clos du Bourg’ Premiere Trie Moelleux

Critic tasting note: (2009 vintage) “A majestic, magisterial wine, powered by super-ripe fruit as well as honey and a gorgeous ripeness. With years ahead of it, this will be superb.” – 97/100Wine Enthusiast

Conclusion

Ham is a delightful, salty treat that pairs perfectly with a variety of wines. Here are the best wines to pair with ham, from salty to sweet, plus what to look for in each type of wine and why it works so well with your favorite holiday dish.

  • Chardonnay: An acidic varietal that’s high in acidity and low in tannin makes this white wine perfect for pairing with ham because it can cut through its richness without being too heavy on its own.
  • Pinot Noir: A medium-bodied red wine that has light berry flavors that will complement any ham dish beautifully. The fruitiness of the grape goes well with the saltiness of the meat and adds sweetness without being too sugary or cloying (like some other reds).
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: These full-bodied reds are low in tannin but still have enough body to stand up against strong spices like rosemary, thyme, sage, and yes even black pepper spice rubs.If you want something more fruity than spicy then try Riesling instead which is very aromatic but less acidic than both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes used in Bordeaux blends like Claret.

Whether you love wine or not, it’s always good to know about these different types of wines so that when it comes time for a holiday dinner, you have an idea of what works best with your favorite dishes.

If you’d like a good recipe idea for ham, I would urge you to give Laura Jackson and Alice Levine’s Maple and Honey Roast Ham a try. Every table should have one of these ham dishes at some point during the holidays.

If you enjoyed this article, check out my others. You might also like my article on the Best wine with Ham, Best Wine for Sangria, and the Best Wine for Barbecue Chicken for more ideas on the best pairings.