A fair bit gets written - including by yours truly - about pairing wine with turkey but what type of drinks go best with the Christmas ham?
Ham itself is not too difficult being mild and a little salty, qualities that match well with classic wines such as Chablis and Beaujolais and fruity reds such as Pinot Noir and Merlot. Semillon can also work a treat (think of that well tried and tested combination of ham and pineapple).
But Christmas hams tend to be more elaborately glazed bringing in an element of sweetness and spiciness that can strip all the character out of dry wines. To be honest a beer is actually a better bet than wine with intensely treacley hams - again something that has a touch of sweetness or spice itself. A lot of brewers make Chrismas ales that I think would work really well or go for an American style IPA or brown ale which are fuller and richer than English styles. With dark treacley glazes you could even try a porter. And if the glaze or accompaniments include apple you could make that a medium dry cider.
But people expect red wines at Christmas don’t they so I’d choose wines with a lot of fruit themselves and not too much tannin. Sweet ripe reds like Chilean Pinot Noir and Merlot, South African and Australian Shiraz and Californian Zinfandel should all work - even a Douro red if the recipe is an exotic one such as Nigella’s Aromatic spiced ham which is cooked with fennel, star anise and peppercorns, studded with cloves and glazed with redcurrant jelly, cinnamon and paprika. Modern styles of Spanish wines, particularly those based on garnacha should work too.
Since I put up a link to this post on Twitter there have been some other interesting suggestions: Riesling (of almost any level of sweetness) from fellow wine writer Howard Goldberg, rosé Champagne from wine writer Ed McCarthy, dry suffolk cider from chef Mitch Tonks and wheat beer, Alsace Pinot Blanc, White Rioja and Argentine Tempranillo (Zuccardi Q) from Neville Blech of Bacchus and Comus.
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