We go a bit out of the box with outstanding results

Giving thanks, time with family, and a delicious ham dinner is standard for Easter. Also standard is the eternal question of which wine to pair with the ham and fixings. The basic rule has always been: “if you like white go Chardonnay, if you like red go Pinot.” While that is fine advice, we wanted to find a truly fine match for our chosen menu and decided to go out of the box. While taking wine pairing chances on major holiday dinners is not always the wisest idea, I felt extremely confident in my choice and was not disappointed.

The Menu

First here’s what we served:

Baked Honey Ham
Vietnamese Style Lime Rice
Sautéed Garlic Green Beans
Mesclun Salad with Strawberries, Macadamia, and Goat Cheese

The ham was baked straight up. We were hoping to grill it with cherry and apple wood but the rain here in Northern California kept us indoors. The lime rice is simple but wonderful. White jasmine rice with a touch of butter and squeezed fresh lime with finely chopped scallions. The green beans were flash boiled then dumped in a bucket of ice water then gently warmed with butter, a hint of lemon, and sautéed garlic. The salad was a slight deviation from a recipe on Joseph Phelps website. We had mixed greens (mesclun) with sliced strawberry. We substituted the walnuts in the recipe for macadamia nuts and went with olive oil instead of walnut oil to make it brighter and thus pair better with the Viognier. The goat cheese added just the right richness.

For this menu we wanted a bright fruit forward wine but also with complexity and enough richness to work with all the above dishes. The Phelps Viognier was perfect. The bright fruit picked up the ham and rice dishes and more than held its own with the salad and beans. At the end of the evening, we couldn’t have been more pleased. For your next ham dish, try to go outside the box a bit like with this fantastic white.

For more recipes and entertaining ideas go to the Joseph Phelps website:

The Wine


Joseph Phelps 2010 Viognier

DdV: 93
Price: $50.00
Blend: 100% Viognier
Source: Estate Saint Helena, Napa

A truly stunning California Viognier and has deservedly received the highest score we’ve given to a wine in the “other white” category. While this wine is priced in the premium Chardonnay category, it is well worth it and can stand up to most Chards in terms of complexity and balance.

On the nose bright honeysuckle, orange spice, and tropical fruit. The mid is lush with more tropical fruit, rich peach, and stunningly subtle oak. The finish is crisp and balanced with more subtle oak, peach, and bright minerals. The oak is so cleverly done on this wine and gives it a complexity that is beyond other offerings in this varietal. Wonderful balance and richness. Very highly recommended!