IBÉRICO HAM AND WINE PAIRINGS
The Ibérico ham is the absolute jewel of the Spanish cuisine. More than that, many people consider it to be the greatest food product in the world. Very few items, if any, can match the utter deliciousness, enveloping aroma and incomparable taste of the best Spanish bellota hams.
Pairing such delicacy with wine can be a tricky business. Generally speaking, when it comes to food pairing there are two possibilites. One may try to complement the products, or one can dig into the contrast between flavours and textures instead.
In this post about Ibérico Ham and Wine Pairings we will suggest some wines which will combine exceedingly well with your favourite Ibérico. To make the list more interesting, we have ordered the wines from least to most contrasting.
Thus, we will begin with some classic Ibérico & Wine pairings, after which we will gradually propose more adventurous and exciting combinations.
The first one is a no-brainer. Indeed, what could be more proper than pairing a great Ibérico ham with a great Spanish red wine? Wines such as the classic Pago de los Capellanes Crianza 2015 or the organic Dominio Romano 2015, both made from Tinta Fina in Ribera del Duero. The mineral darkness and fat-free structure of both reds, seasoned by the right amount of time in oak barrels, make them an ideal match for the intense, palate-coating taste of a great Ibérico.
Less sturdy than the Riberas, the Riojas usually display more subtlety and nuance. Just check Fincas de Ganuza Reserva 2012, a classic blend of Tempranillo and Graciano, and Sela 2015, with the same composition, plus a touch of fruity Grenache. Rioja and Ibérico ham... Seriously, who could ask for anything more?
That's all very well, of course. But now we depart from the world of juicy, fruit-driven red wines in search of other qualities. We are looking from freshness, acidity, saltiness, maybe even bitterness. As an old INXS song said: "Are you ready for a new sensation?"
If so, you should try Chivite 125 Colección Rosado 2016 a rosé wine with a red soul made from Tempranillo & Grenache and aged for 10 months in oak. Elegant and structured, pairing it with a good Ibérico is the proof that opposites attract each other.
An organic rosé wine, Gran Caus Rosat 2017 is a single varietal Merlot whose crisp, chiseled minerality naturally balances the dense sensation of Ibérico. A savoury palate cleanser.
Maria Casanovas Pinot Noir Rosado. The marriage of Ibérico & Sparkling wine is the most sensuous of them all. This varietal Pinot Noir has enough body to match the ham; besides, the notes of wild berries will enhance the meaty nuances of Ibérico.
From one of the best Cava producers, the biodynamic certified Recaredo Subtil Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2011 combines to perfection the crisp acidity of the Xarel·lo grape with the creamy, smooth touch of the Chardonnay. A sparkler which highlights the most delicate qualities of the best Ibérico hams.
Another top sparkler, Sabaté i Coca Reserva Familiar Brut Nature is a varietal Xarel·lo partially fermented in oak whose tiny, subtle bubbles and velvety body mingle wonderfully with the melting texture of great Ibéricos.
Now for something rather different, Ximénez Spinola Exceptional Harvest 2017 is an amazingly expressive single varietal dry Pedro Ximénez aged in oak for a short period. It will perfectly accompany middle-aged hams. A clean, neat combination.
San León Manzanilla Reserva de la Familia. The combination of Ibérico and Sherry is most common in Andalusia, where some of the world's best hams are born. In our minds, it is probably the most perfect of all, as the electric tension and crispness of the Manzanilla cleanses the palate and leaves it ready for the next bite. Truly a match made in heaven.
Lastly, and only for the really audacious, we suggest Lustau Amontillado Escuadrilla, a great companion for long-aged Ibéricos. The most misterious of all Andalusian fortified wines, the warm acidity of Amontillado, together with its salty, toasted and iodized nuances, make for an unforgettably rich combination.
Until our next post,
Enjoy wine - and Ibérico ham, of course.