While there are myriad reasons why lamb is the traditional meat to eat on Easter, there’s also very sound reasoning behind the argument that it’s also counterintuitive: If this is a celebration of spring, why not lighten it up a bit? Let’s have ham, instead! And let’s drink wines that pivot toward the change in temperature, brighten our moods and make the ham taste even better, too. Here's what to drink with every kind of ham:
For ham slathered in spicy mayo or aioli
Anna de Codorniu Cava Brut Rosé ($13)
This Cava made in the “traditional” (read: Champagne) method is (like a lot of Champagne) composed of 70 percent Pinot Noir (Chardonnay, the remainder), and it shows, literally, in its salmon/pale-pink appearance. While there are lovely aromas of cherries and berries all over the place, it’s this bubbly’s bracing acidity that keeps coming through, straight into the finish.
For fruity, glazed ham
2015 Rocca Di Montemassi Calasole Vermentino ($15)
Behold: your first bouquet of white flowers this spring as you take in the heady nose of this Tuscan Vermentino. However, this is no delicate flower of a wine, as it quickly dives deep from delicate to minerally, even nutty (think hazelnuts, in particular), landing on a crunchy bite of Granny Smith apple in the finish.
For smoked ham with a sweet-tart glaze
2016 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé ($14)
Here’s the lightest Cabernet you may ever taste (or gulp, actually, which is inevitable after the first sip). While Mulderbosch earned its street cred with its racy Sauvignon Blanc, this dusty pink pleaser from the other side of the planet is selling fast since it debuted. Here’s why: it proffers waves of refreshing pink grapefruit acidity coupled with succulent, ripe watermelon—the kind you can’t stop eating.
For fresh ham that's been braised in booze
2015 Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Reserve Rouge ($13)
This is your go-to red for springtime quaffing (heck—straight through summer!), served preferably a tad chilled, featuring silky Grenache (with Syrah making up the rest, plus a slash of Mourvèdre) boasting berries of the red and black variety, plus a touch of dusty spice and sweet, juicy tannins in the finish.
For your leftovers: grilled ham and cheese sandwiches
2016 Masciarelli Villa Gemma Abruzzo Cerasuolo ($15)
The word “cerasuolo” means “cherry-like” in Italian, and describes this wine’s gorgeous, transparent garnet color, thanks to very brief grape skin contact during fermentation. The resulting red plays it both ways, with cherry, brambly, red wine fruit flavors wrapped around a tight beam of mouthwatering white wine acidity.