I realize now that fixing a two traditional holiday Thanksgiving or Christmas meals –first a ham dinner then a turkey dinner– and tasting a bunch of wines with the food really was quite a challenge. If I was a stay at home wine blogger (and not teaching 75% time, working on a PhD, and being a mom!), I am sure I could have accomplished it before Thanksgiving! As it is, I made due with a steady stream of tweets and facebook posts to share what I was tasting and learning. And I know thanks to search engines, people will be finding these posts for years to come!
So what did I learn about ham and wine?
The big surprise was how well the ham dinner went with the 2007 Sonoma County St Francis Old Vines Zinfandel (under $20). I knew I would like this wine with turkey but on a whim I decided to open it. As I tasted through the line-up, I didn’t expect much of the zin. However, the chemical reaction between the ham and the zin was wonderfully tasty!
So much so that if I was to recommend one wine to bring, especially f you didn’t know what was going to be served, I’d go with a zinfandel because it works with ham, turkey, appetizers including blue cheese and crackers, as well as red meats like prime rib.
Zinfandel is a wonderful food wine and accessible to many people even if they are not regular wine drinkers. Read my discussion of the St Francis Zin with turkey here.
My second favorite for the ham from this line-up is the 2010 M. Chapoutier Bellaruche Cotes-du-Rhone. Personally, I really enjoy dry roses with ham (here’s a discussion of a dry rose from Bordeaux with ham). There is something about the combo of the spice and sweetness and salitiness that makes this work so well. I also tried this the next morning with ham and eggs and a cranberry pecan scone and I would definitely recommend this wine for brunch or one of those breakfast for dinner kind of nights.
I also tried the 2010 Oak Mountain Winery Muscat from Temecula Valley CA $18 (winery price) because I had an open bottle. I liked this well enough with the ham. Here’s more about it in my post about the International Food Bloggers Conference dinner which is where I got it. I should have included a Riesling or Gewürztraminer in the tasting as these are typically great wines with ham. But there was already a lot of wine open!
The other two wines I tried were also good wines but not that exciting with ham:
2009 Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages considered one of the best wines under $25!
While this wine wasn’t my favorite with the ham, it’s a great choice for appetizers. I love it with pate, cheese and crackers.
2009 Craggy Ridge Pinot Noir ($35-45) As I wrote when I reviewed it with turkey, this is a lovely, delightful complex pinot noir, full of earth and moss and violets and chocolate and tarragon, truly a wonderful Pinot Noir from New Zealand, lush, sensual. I wouldn’t bring this wine to a big holiday meal with tons of people– save it for when you can focus on it and savor it! I bet it would be better with a pork loin or chop than with salty ham.
What wine do you like to drink with ham?
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!