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Wine with country ham? Help!

  • j

My dear friend of many years is scraping the mold off and soaking a country ham. It's still going to be salty Saturday night. I'll be lucky to get my shoes on Sunday !
Lots of water and extra blood pressure meds are what I should be drinking, but any suggestions on wine? I'd like to bring some

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    1. Probably better to ask in the wine forum?

      (I'm absolutely not a wine expert but FWIW I'd personally choose something dryish and on the spicy side, e.g. a Rioja.)

      1. Hopkins Vineyard in Connecticut makes a unique off-dry red wine called "Sachem's Picnic" that I think would stand up to this.

        I'm quite fond of Viognier (so long as it's a dry one to go with the ham, not a sweeter Viognier Doux). Also, Gruner Veltliner's quite the rage now (I like the Hoepler) and it's readily available and would go quite nicely with lotsa complex flavors and salt.

        It's a little hard to talk about wine when I only know the main's going to be a special, delicious ham -- but I don't know what you're going to serve on the side.

        1 Reply
        1. re: shaogo

          Now the GV was not on the top of my list, but, upon reflection, I can definitely see that possibility.

          Still, for me, Country Ham is a breakfast staple, and while I have no qualms about finding just the right "breakfast Chardonnay," usually think more of a "brunch wine," with that dish. Maybe I am just limited?

          However, we used to hand-pick our country hams, outside of Galatin, TN, and then bring them back to Mississippi, to dine on, for months. Just did not have many wines back then, as parents were more Mogan David fans, and I had not yet acquired my wine palate.


        2. One of the lighter cru Beaujolais' such as Fleurie is delicious with country ham. have also enjoyed a rose of Pinot Noir with that, too.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ChefJune

            My recommendation is based on my experiences preparing and serving country ham from Kite's near Charlottesville, VA. I have not gone sweet in my preparation, and the Fleurie has been a great pairing. Of course, I would also love a Rose Champagne.

            1. re: ChefJune

              Second that Brut Rosé!

              Almost regardless of the prep, there will be fat in the ham, and the acidity of the Champagne/sparkler, should cut through that. The body of a Rosé will work in the ham's favor.

              Depending on the gravy (true "red-eye" will have both sweet and bitter, with the coffee), things could get dicey.


          2. riesling. There are a few reds that can work too, but riesling is the most versatile and predictable IMO. Around kabinett is right.

            1. I'm definitely no expert, but do enjoy a REAL country ham. That thinly-sliced, aged goodness is heaven (although I know what you mean about that blood pressure medication - lol!!).

              That said - & again, I'm not a wine expert - I agree that a nice fruity dry red would go very nicely. You don't want something too sweet - that would be too much of a culinary contradiction.

              I agree that a Beaujolais would be very pleasant. Another idea? A nice rose'. Or both if you want to bring 2 bottles.

              8 Replies
              1. re: Bacardi1

                +1 for Rosé. Or Rosé Champagne (especially if the ham has some saltiness), and Grenache/Garnacha. I think the wine should be a quaffer and thirst-quenching with ham. I can see a lighter Beaujolais also (not Nouveau, however).

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  SOME saltiness? They taste like they were dredged from the Dead Sea...:)

                  1. re: Veggo

                    Yeah, well, that's why Bubbly works so well...it loves fat and salt.

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      And, the "salt" will enhance any sweetness in the Champagne/sparkler, which, in this case, should be a good thing.


                    2. re: Veggo

                      No one in that part of the world will eat one.
                      If you don't mind, I'll share your description with my host Sat.
                      He'll enjoy it.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        Not with a high-quality attic-aged country ham. A good one is on a par with a good prosciutto, & is served as such - in paper thin slices.

                        1. re: Bacardi1

                          This ham is produced in the Carolina's . It's intended to be soaked and cooked unlike a Spanish or Italian ham. I don't believe it can be eaten like one, there's far too much salt in the curing process.

                          1. re: joss2

                            I know what it is & know that it has to be soaked & cooked. Was just stating that it's meant to be sliced thinner for eating - not cut into the thicker steaks one would with a city ham.

                  2. Another wine that is very popular right now, and therefore relatively easy to find, is Moscato. Lower alcohols give you the ability to take a thirst quenching gulp and the--not too much--residual sugar gives you some sweet to go with salty/savory. They provide just a light bit of "frizzante" (lightly sparkling) to help cut through your salt-lick-in-meat-form. This is also a very affordable way to go.

                    My couple experiences with true Country Ham have been great. I really like salt. But the levels of salt have been varied and how you cut the ham seems to make almost as big difference as how long you "unbrine" it. Quotes were because I made up that word.

                    There are versions of this wine from all over the place but I tend to prefer the ones from Italy. Good Luck.

                    1. Thank you all!
                      I think my host is doing Riesling , I'll bring rose. 15 are coming so there should be some red too.
                      If I could only be vegan for the night!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: joss2

                        Is that a sparkling or still rose? If still and 15 are coming, then add a bubbly, (love that moscato d'asti recco) and you can have a mini-tasting in the mean time!

                        Further: you might consider some cheese or other finger-food pairings to match those specific wine varietals you now have picked out, so there's something besides ham, and more pairings to experiment with.


                        1. re: joss2

                          Good choices.
                          With a salty ham, in part it depends on the glaze or other flavors. But definitely avoid tannin and high-alc wines.
                          If there's any sweet glaze at all, maybe riesling or even an Alsatian Gewurz or PG. Champagne definitely works, with an edge to rose.
                          If the prep is more savory, then a light red would also work. I'd pick a lighter/fruity pinot, a similar grenache, or a cru Bojo.

                        2. I have yet to read any other replies, but here are my thoughts - though I normally enjoy my country ham (most often Benton's, or Smithfield) at breakfast:

                          Because of the salt, too much sweetness can become overwhelming, so maybe an Alsatian Riesling, or Pinot Blanc.

                          With the "earth flavor," perhaps an OR Pinot Noir (great with most "earthy" dishes)?

                          Champagne, and especially a Brut Rosé, to work with both major flavor components.

                          Good luck, and let me go read,


                          1. What a relief! This mail order ham from Kentucky wasn't nearly as salty as earlier ones!
                            The Rose, Sancerre, and Moscato all worked well.
                            I didn't get to the reds.
                            Thank you all for your help!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: joss2

                              Glad to hear that! My Kite's Hams are never overly salty. the artisan hams I think are much better than the factory (i.e., Smithfield these days) hams...