Pigs & Wine: Bring It On!!


Pig. Pork. Bacon. Hocks. It really doesn’t matter what it is as long as it comes from the Pig.

Tenderloin, Pancetta, proscuitto, chops, sausage…the name is usually irrelevant. If it is produced from the pig I’m gonna like it. But within the Universe of Pork, there is one cut that is the King of Pig: Ham.

With Easter around the corner I can look forward to our family’s annual baking of the nice and pink, bone-in, semi-cooked country ham. From this 18 pound beauty will come Easter dinner, steaks, sandwiches, spread, soup, frittattas, scrambled eggs and any number of dishes that have a hint of salty pork in them. No doubt, good times are on their way.

The only road block that stands in the way our our initial ham feast on Easter is the decision of what wine to serve that will not only honor the occasion but honor the yummy, well tended and finely reduced Pig that gave its life for our pleasure?

Just like with Thanksgiving Dinner I think you are obligated to try to match the wine to the meat, rather than it AND its side dishes. The Turkey is the star. On Easter, the Ham is the star despite the array of new vegetables and other spring arrivals.

So then, what is this fine Easter Ham that must be matched by wine? Only slightly salty. Infused Gewurz_1
with that porky goodness aromas and slightly smoky flavors. It’s outter reaches carmelized with sweet, mapley sugars with hints of cinnemon and sage. And serve just north of room temperature.

What we have here is clearly a job for Gewurztraminer. Particularly a slightly off dry Gewurztraminer, but
totally dry will do the trick too.

The naturally higher acidity can handle the slightly greasy character. The spicy notes in the wine should match quite nicely the smoky character in the ham. The up front fruits and slight sweetness will temper and compliment the sweetness of the glaze.

My favorite Easter Gewurztraminers:

Handley Cellars Anderson Valley
Navarro Vineyards Anderson Valley
Lazy Creek Anderson Valley
Corison Curazon Anderson Valley
Stony Hill Napa Valley
Thomas Fogerty Monterey

While lovely Gewurztraminers are made across the state of California, Anderson Valley is in the midst of claiming its stake to the grape. The variety wants a cooler climate which recommends it to Anderson Valley as well as to dozens of other cooler climates across the state. Even here in the Sonoma Valley, and particularly in the Carneros region, Gewurztraminer vineyards can be spotted here and there and find their way into terrific bottlings.

The varietal hasn’t been pigeonholed in terms of style either. You can taste brilliant off dry examples, searingly dry and spicy wines, and more fruit forward, lusher bottlings. It’s a matter of tasting across and number of wines to find the producer you want. Once you find a producer whose Gewurztraminer is to your taste you can bet they’ll make it the same way vintage after vintage.

But back to the pig.

Lamb is the choice for Easter for many, I know. And I know the argument for going with the lamb at Easter. So don’t be offended if you come down on the side of lamb when I say The Pig is the authentic, and correct choice for Easter. There’s nothing that sings spring like a Pig, a Gewurz and Easter.

6 Responses

  1. dfredman - April 12, 2006

    Tom- I too am a lover of Gewurztraminer, particularly accompanying ham. However, on your list of favorite Gewurztaminers you left off my favorite, and perhaps the most obvious one of all for this particular holiday: André Ostertag! Whether it’s his regular bottling or the Meunchburg Grand Cru release, they work beautifully with any sort of pork, and besides, if you translate his last name into English, it’s “Easterday”….

  2. Ben - April 12, 2006

    What about Alsation Pinot Gris? I think that would be just dandy. And is it Alsacian or Alsatian?

  3. Jack - April 12, 2006

    An Ostertag Epfig or E, an Albert Mann, a J. Hofstätter, or a Sanct Valentin are all great Gewürztraminer choices for ham. Sorry, but I have yet to find a US Gewürztraminer that offers any of the pleasures of an excellent one from Alsace or Alto Adige.

  4. tom - April 13, 2006

    Indeed, the Alsacian Gewurzt and Pinot Gris would be a nice choice. I just thought I’d stick to my own back yard in this case. Good recommendations all.

  5. Bradley - April 14, 2006

    Gews are great. The spice is a nice compliment to the ham smoke. I also like to break out the rose. Especialy if it’s made dry and has a bit of tannic backbone.

  6. Rebecca - August 31, 2006

    I love Gewurzt
    I will definitely try some of the ones you mentioned, but you should also try ours! Have a winery in TN and my husband makes a mean Gewurz!
    enjoying your blog!

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