Ham is a sweet, salty, and rich cured meat that pairs best lively and acidic wines like Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Beaujolais, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir. The fruity flavours of the wine are complemented by the sweetness of the Ham, while offering refreshment against the saltiness and smokiness of the meat.

Ham Wine Pairings

  • Easter/Christmas Ham: Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Grigio
  • Black Forest Ham: Zinfandel, Rosé, Tempranillo
  • Honey Baked Ham: Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Pinotage
  • Ham Sandwich: Pelaverga, Beaujolais, Rosé

If I were bringing wine to an Easter Dinner, I would bring Beaujolais Villages for my Red and an off-dry Riesling as my white wine.  Not only are these two wines excellent with Ham, they are inexpensive, of high-quality, and will pair well with many of the side dishes due to their high acidity.

Best Wine With Ham

New World Pinot Noir & Black Forest Ham Pairing

With the sweetness and saltiness of Ham, a medium-bodied and fruity wine like Pinot Noir is a must. Full-bodied and tannic red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz will not complement the ham’s sweetness, nor will they be as refreshing, due to a lack of acidity when paired with Ham.

Pinot Noir is a sassy red wine featuring juicy notes of cherries, strawberries and raspberries that offer a refreshing contrast against the salty Ham flavours.  While it sounds simple, Pinot Noir is also complex and delivers subtle flavours of dark chocolate, leather, smoke, truffles and tobacco.  It’s these subtle earthy notes that drive wine enthusiasts wild, as they are always fleeting and teasing.  When Pinot Noir is made well, it knows just how to give you a taste of how elegant it is while remaining flirty, silky and smooth.

When paired up with Ham, California, and New Zealand Pinot Noir will be a bigger crowd-pleaser as the wines often taste more fruity and less earthy than old-world Pinot Noir.  The crowd-pleasing friendliness of a new world Pinot Noir is perfect for buffets, banquets or family dinners where Ham is served as many of the attendees might not be familiar with wine.  Thus, serving an expensive Pinot Noir, like Burgundy, will go right over their head.

If you want good Pinot Noir, it is costly as it is a difficult wine to grow and a finicky wine to create.  Expect to pay $40 and up for good quality Pinot Noir, which does not make it ideal for larger events.  Furthermore, you don’t want to waste a good Pinot Noir, if nobody is going to pick up its subtle nuances.  Thus, in most instances I would serve an inexpensive Beaujolais which has 80% of what Pinot Noir has to offer.

Riesling & Honey Glazed Ham Pairing

A somewhat sweet Ham, such as a Honey Glazed Ham or Glazed Baked Ham, pairs well with an off-dry Riesling. Riesling is full of apple, peach and citrus flavours, making it a good match for Ham, as pineapple is typically associated with this meat. Riesling’s subtle sweetness and notes of honey match the Ham’s sweetness, plus, there is a minerality to Riesling that complements the earthier flavours of Ham. Meanwhile, the bright acidity and citrus flavours contrast nicely with the saltiness of the meat.

Many people assume Riesling is a sweet wine, however, Off-dry Riesling means that the wine has a kiss of sugar.  The slight sweetness makes Riesling a wonderful match for buffets or brunches where Ham is served as many of the other fixings (maple-glazed carrots, pancakes, squash mixed with brown sugar, turnip and sweet potato mash) will be slightly sweet as well.

While I suggest bringing Riesling to Easter or Christmas dinners where Ham is served, I recognize that many people have preconceived notions of Riesling being sweet, making them turn their noses up at it.  In North America, Riesling tends to be the first wine people drink when they are young, as they can buy sugared up versions which they unfortunately overindulge in and thus have bad memories of wretched hangovers.  If you or a loved one at your Easter Dinner have been sick due to Riesling, serve a Pinot Grigio, which I discuss further below.

Pinot Grigio & Easter Ham Pairing

Pinot Grigio is a huge crowd-pleaser, especially among women, and makes for an excellent wine pairing with Ham.  Light and neutral in flavour, people seem to love the dry flavours of apple, pear, smoke and mineral that Pinot Grigio delivers.   While there are dozens of other white wines I would recommend before Pinot Grigio, nobody is going to complain if you bring this to an Easter dinner as Pinot Grigio is inoffensive.   In fact, you’ll probably see many people’s eyes light up when they see the bottle!

Pinot Grigio won’t overpower the Ham, plus it’s got enough weight to hold up to many of the other dishes served at Easter like Turkey, Pasta Salad, Coleslaw, Mixed Veggies and Dinner rolls.

Furthermore, the acidity of Pinot Grigio keeps you refreshed against the salty flavours of the Pork while charming you with its crisp flavours of green apple, lemon, pear and melon.

Rosé & Ham Brunch Wine Pairing

While Ham might be the star of an Easter Brunch, you also have to think about the many other side dishes that might be served.  Mimosas (which are a blend of Orange Juice and Sparkling Wine) are often served at brunch as they are bubbly, sweet and acidic.  Plus, they are fun to drink as they are in a long-stemmed flute.

The acidity ensures the Mimosa is food-friendly, as acidity highlights all the individual flavours of the foods.  Meanwhile, the sweetness of a Mimosa complements the sweetness of the Ham and many of the other side dishes at brunch, such as Pancakes, French Toast, Waffles, light salads and Pasta Salads.

But Mimosas can get old after one glass.  It’s enjoyable at first but soon comes off as too sweet as it’s not a subtle drink.  This is where Rosé comes in as it’s often crisp and acidic like a Mimosa but far less sweet.  Sure, Rosé looks like it’s going to taste like candy due to its pink colour, however, the wine is remarkably dry (assuming you buy a dry Rosé).

Crisp with delicious flavours of cherry, raspberry, strawberry and watermelon, Rosé has a perceived sweetness as it tastes fruity, but it remains dry, meaning it won’t overpower any lighter dishes on your plate.  You’ll also get interesting notes of herbs, mineral, peach and white pepper that add further interest and excitement to this underrated wine.

In North American, most men are too macho to drink Rosé (and Mimosas), thus, if you’re looking for a red wine to appease their masculinity, serve a Beaujolais Villages at your Easter Brunch, which I discuss below.

Beaujolais-Villages Wine and Ham Sandwiches Pairing

Beaujolais Villages is the perfect red wine to serve with Easter Ham at a buffet. Still, it’s also undoubtedly delicious with Ham leftovers such as Western Sandwiches, Split Pea and Ham Soup, and Ham Sandwiches.  Light, fruity and inexpensive, Beaujolais Villages is charming with its juicy notes of cherries, raspberry and strawberry, making it perfect with any Ham leftovers as it’s an incredibly versatile red wine.

Because a Ham Sandwich isn’t a filling meal, a Beaujolais makes for a great paring partner as it won’t fill you up either. Low in alcohol, Beaujolais comes off as refreshing and won’t make you feel tired or tipsy after drinking it.  This is perfect, as Ham Sandwiches are often served at lunch, so the low alcohol nature of Beaujolais allows you to go about the rest of your day without feeling like you need a nap.

Beaujolais-Villages also offers enough depth to impress a wine enthusiast (it is a French wine, after all), as you’ll find interesting notes of mineral, herbs, earth and black pepper that are subtle, and often only noticed if you are looking for them.  Meanwhile, the high acidity of Beaujolais easily washes away any ham, mustard, cheese, or mayonnaise flavours that are gumming up your taste buds, which ensures each bite tastes as fresh as the first.

Article Summary

Do You Serve Red or White Wine With Ham?

You can serve either Red or White Wine with Ham.  as both are equally delicious with Ham provided they are light and fruity wines.  The best red wine to go with Ham is Beaujolais, and the best white wine to go with Ham is an off-dry Riesling.

What is the Best White Wine to Serve With Ham?

The Best White Wine to Serve With Ham is an off-dry Riesling.  An off-dry Riesling will complement the sweetness of your Ham while providing a refreshing citrus bite to quench your thirst from the Ham’s saltiness.

What is the Best Red Wine to Serve With Ham?

The best red wine to serve with Ham is Beaujolais Villages.  Beaujolais Villages is a light and fruity red wine from France that features flavours of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, plum and black pepper.  The fruity flavours of Beaujolais are refreshing against the Ham’s saltiness.  Meanwhile, the lighter body of Beaujolais ensures you will taste all the yummy savoury and smoky flavours of your Ham.

What wine goes with Easter Ham Dinner?

Beaujolais Villages and an Off-Dry Riesling are two inexpensive but high-quality wines to pair with your Easter Dinner.  The lively fruit flavours of these red and white wines will pair up exceptionally well with your Easter Ham along with the majority of side dishes of your Easter feast.

Does Cabernet Sauvignon Pair With Ham?

Cabernet Sauvignon is not a great wine match for Ham.  Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be bold in flavour, meaning it will overpower the subtle flavours of your Ham dinner.  Vegetables served alongside your Ham, such as asparagus, peas & carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and side salads will also be crushed by the strong flavours of Cabernet Sauvignon.