Acorn-fed jamón ibérico deserves to be accompanied by the right beverage. How else can you accurately appreciate the unique flavors of such an exquisite product? A proper pairing encompases so many ideas, but we like to think of a pairing as a harmony between two seemingly distinct foods and/or beverages. So when it comes to wine— one of our favorite ways to enjoy jamón— there are so many different pairings that bring out its best qualities and create a distinct and delicious harmony of flavors and textures.
Wine in particular has deep roots in Spain. People have been turning grapes into wine for centuries here! So it’s only natural that jamón really comes alive with some of the country’s best wines. Of course, not all wine will do the trick. These are the rules we live by when looking for bottles to pair with our jamón ibérico.
Don’t Limit Yourself
Despite what you may think about such a niche product, jamón ibérico works well with a wide range of distinct wines— each offering up interesting flavors and nuances that may surprise you. And with such a high fat content and pronounced saltiness, it works well with a number of cold and ambient wines with varying levels of body.
Pairing Jamón with Sweet Wines
Sweet wines are extremely popular in Spain, especially in the south where the temperatures are hot and the grapes spend more time concentrating their sugars under the blazing sun. Many years ago, people believed that the combination of sweet wine and jamón ibérico was healthy and thus, a great pairing. Now we know from a culinary perspective (backed by many sommeliers), that the high level of sugar content in sweet wines can actually overtake the flavors of jamón. In other words, avoid sweet wines when you’re pairing jamón!
Pairing Jamón with Young Wines
Not all young wines work well with jamón. Those white wines that are heavier and full-bodied tend to mask the flavors of jamón, and light white wines can also get lost in the intensity. On the other hand, lighter young red wines offer a reciprocal attraction to acorn-fed jamón ibérico— the freshness of the wine and intensity of the jamón tend to play off of each other.
Pairing Jamón with Aged Wines
Though aged red wines tend to have big personalities and bold textures and finishes, they’re excellent accompaniments to jamón ibérico. Two high-quality products (especially when you’re sourcing wine from Spain) with such monstrous flavors and aromas work beautifully together to create a truly harmonious pairing. Look for Spanish wines with the word “reserva” or “gran reserva” and your jamón will be in good hands.
Pairing Jamón with Bubbles
Aside from those sweeter bubbly wines, a dry bubbly wine like Spanish Cava (brut-nature or sec) or dry French Champagne makes for a phenomenal, and practically unbeatable jamón ibérico pairing. And there’s no better way to celebrate than by opening a bottle of bubbles and slicing up an acorn-fed 100% jamón ibérico.
Pairing Jamón with Dry Sherry Wines
Authentic sherry wines aren’t as common in the U.S. as they are in Spain, but if you can get your hands on a few bottles, they’re definitely worth a try. Look for manzanilla sherry or fino, both of which are extremely dry and tend to elongate the luxurious flavors of jamón on the palate. Some say these are the most ideal wine pairings for jamón ibérico.
For more tips on how to incorporate jamón ibérico into your culinary undertakings, check out the COVAP blog. You’ll find tons of information on unique pairings, recipes, and even more reasons to indulge in acorn-fed jamón ibérico.