One of the best things about Pinot is its versatility, and nowhere is that more apparent than at the Christmas table. But choosing which style to drink depends on more than just your choice of protein.

“Ham is a very broad category, there are so many ways to do it,” says Leanne Altmann, Beverage Director for the McConnell Group (which includes our favourite butcher, Meatsmith).

“Have you given the ham a sweet glaze? Is it highly smoked, or more of an English-style gammon ham? Are you eating it hot or cold?”

Broadly speaking, Pinots that work well with ham are those with a bit more fleshiness and juiciness of fruit, Altmann says, for example a Pinot Noir from Eastern Peake in Ballarat. “They’re making some really exciting wines, I’d be very happy to see them on the Christmas table.”

But if you want to get more specific, here are some guidelines.

Cold ham, unglazed: Look for something bright and fresh, such as a Pinot Noir Rosé (try the #004 Pinot Noir Rosé from Swinging Bridge) or even a sparkling made from Pinot Noir grapes.

Roast ham, served hot, light glaze: For a ham served hot but that still retains its natural porky flavour (i.e. one that hasn’t been overly smoked or heavily glazed), Altmann looks to the wines of Burgundy, France. “One in particular – the Bourgogne 2015 from Domaine Faiveley. It’s such a ripe and voluptuous vintage, and really over delivers.”

Heavily smoked or glazed ham: For a ham with a richer, stronger flavour (whether from being heavily smoked or glazed), you need a wine with a bit more intensity. Altmann suggests looking at a Pinot Shiraz blend – they have the “lift, freshness and fragrance of Pinot but the spice and structure of a Shiraz,” she says. Yarra Yering’s 2017 Light Dry Red Pinot Shiraz or Medhurst Estate’s 2017 YRB are both excellent options.

If you haven’t ordered your Christmas ham yet, Meatsmith are accepting orders until 5pm Tuesday 19th December. They stock a range of great Pinots, too. Email them at [email protected] 

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