Wine Is No Worry When You Ham It Up

Traditional Sliced Honey Glazed HamThings were going so well.

I wanted to take the burden of preparing the Thanksgiving meal off the shoulders of my beautiful bride, so I’d been plotting my strategy for weeks.

Basically, I would purchase a pre-cooked turkey that merely needed to be heated up, and other family members would bring one side dish each. That’s right — a Thanksgiving potluck.

I had already selected all of the wines to accompany the big feast: mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, along with a couple of semi-sweet Rieslings (so I could demonstrate to a few doubters that they really do like wine).

On Saturday, Michelle returned earlier than I’d predicted from a shopping expedition while I was in the process of washing the dinnerware and the wine glasses. Although that “surprise” had been ruined, she acknowledged my “sweet gesture.”

Then she said five words that sent my Thanksgiving planning plummeting in a steep downward spiral. (Okay, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but the steep spiral thing makes for a better story.)

Those five words? “Let’s do ham this year!”

“Great idea!” I replied, and after I’d finished washing the dishes and glassware, I put the bottles of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling that I’d selected back on the wine rack. With a honey-glazed ham, I needed to start the pairing process from square one.

Ham is a more challenging pairing partner for wine because it’s quite salty and, at holiday time, it typically comes with a honey glaze.

Whether the ham is salty, or salty and sweet, I’ve found that a glass of fruity Beaujolais makes a nice pairing partner. Another option is Viognier, which typically provides a nice counterpoint to the smoky quality of the ham.

I’ll also be opening a bottle or two of fruit-forward California Zinfandel. And to add a festive flair, I’ll pop the corks on a few bottles of sparkling wine once everyone has gathered at the dining room table. Sparkling wine — pretty much any type — is a good choice for accompanying salty fare like ham.

So, while the wines may be different, the big day will still be a lot of fun.

Besides, now I can save those bottles of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for our big Christmas meal.

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