In Twas The Night Before Christmas, it was sugerplums that danced in the children’s head. But, when I think of Christmas, I think of ham dancing across the dinner table. Ham seems to be as ubiquitous to Christmas as Turkey is to Thanksgiving. That got me thinking, what wines would go well with ham. Since Christmas is such a festive holiday, I wanted the wine to be festive as well. And, what could be more festive than sparkling wine.
I searched high and low and found some really interesting (or strange) sparklers that will go great with ham. Luckily, ham (and pork in general) is one of those versatile wine foods that go well with both whites and reds. Ham works well with wines that are bone dry to slightly sweet. And, the fat in the wine compliments the effervescent bubbles. It’s a great main dish to pair with these strange and interesting sparklers:
- Pacific Rim “White Flowers” Sparkling Riesling (Washington State) — This sparkling Riesling from Pacific Rim (a winery specializing in Washington State Riesling) is modeled after its German cousin – Sekt. This wine is aged on it’s lees, which gives it a yeasty flavor, but also preserves the citrus and stone fruit qualities of Riesling. There is a slightly bitter quality to the wine that will pair with the savory quality of the ham.
- Szigeti Sparkling Gruner Veltliner (Austria) — I am obsessed with Gruner Veltliner, which is citrusy, green and spicy all at the same time and just loves food. It’s no wonder that it’s the national grape (and wine) of Austria. Imagine my glee when I found it in sparkling form and it didn’t disappoint! You get the lovely toasty and yeasty quality imparted by the method champonoise used to make sparkling wine followed by the green and spiciness of the Gruner. Very unique and would make a nice compliment to ham. Would also go well with seafood and turkey.
- Barbolini “Lancillotto” Lambrusca Grasparossa di Castelvetro 2010 Secco (Italy) — Other than Gruner Veltliner, my other current wine obsession is Lambrusca, which is a sparkling wine out of the Emilie-Romagna region of Italy. Lambrusca is the only grape native to Europe that is used to make wine (the rest making its way from the area around current day Georgia). Lambrusca can be bone dry to sweet. I would recommend this Barbolini, which is dry but an off-dry would work well too. This wine has great bubbles with fresh red and black fruit flavors.
- Il Grotta del Sole Gragnano della Penisola Sorrentina (Italy) — This is a very unique wine coming out of the south of Italy, where it is apparently drank when eating pizza. The wine has a beautiful purple color and medium size bubbles. It’s very dry with dark fruit and a slight bitterness. One of the more unique wines that I have tried recently.
- Bitch Bubbly (Australia) — Don’t be put off my the name -this is a great wine at a great price (generally clocks in around $9.99). This sparkler is made from Grenache and expresses what I love about easy drinking Grenache. It has beautiful strawberry and raspberry notes (that appear almost sweet) and round, fat bubbles that linger on the lips. It’s a perfect compliment to ham and also greater on it’s own as a starter.