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Wine & Food Pairing: Jamón Ham

The types and qualities of Spanish hams are determined by the breed of the pig, how and where it was raised, and how it was processed. Certain combinations of these factors are protected and warranted through certification by Denominación de Origin or the Consorcio del Jamón Serrano Español. These ensure that the hams that bear their seal deliver the quality and flavors synonymous with the name.

In their infancy, all pigs are raised on a diet that includes cereal grains and mother’s milk. While white pigs usually continue to eat only cereal feeds after weaning, Ibérico pigs are raised on a variety of diets. Diet is the second most important factor influencing the quality of the ham, and is one of the factors evaluated in determining Ibérico ham grades.

Ibérico HamsBellota grade
Hams are from Ibérico pigs, which have spent the last three to four months of their lives feasting on rich, sweet acorns that have dropped from the ground from holm and cork trees in the meadows of a region called the dehesa. This period of grazing on the open range is called the montanera, and the pigs add about half their weight during this period.

The coveted hams they produce are unique in the world: beautiful nutty ham slices which glisten when they are served because 60% of their marbled fat contains healthy mono triglycerides that melt at room temperature. Because of its quality, many connoisseurs have referred to Jamón Ibérico Bellota as the “Beluga caviar of hams.”

Recebo grade Ibérico ham
These are hams from Ibérico pigs who have have enjoyed a shorter free range acorn grazing period or added less than 50% to their weight during the montanera, and are subsequently fattened and brought to market weight with cereal feed.

Cebo grade Ibérico ham
These are hams from Ibérico pigs who were raised on a diet of cereal feeds.

Ibérico ham
These are hams from Ibérico pigs, usually cross-bred with white pigs, who were raised on farms and fed cereal feeds, without a period of free range grazing.

Serrano Hams(Teruel ham, Trevélez ham, Gran Serrano ham)
These hams are from white or Duroc pigs, who were raised on farms and fed cereal feed, and then cured for more than one year at high altitudes in dry climates such as Teruel and Sierra Nevada.

Oro (gold) Serrano ham, Plata (silver) Serrano ham
Hams from white pigs, who were raised on farms and fed cereal feed, then cured for over 12 months anywhere in Spain.

Cured ham
Hams from white pigs, who were raised on farms (usually outside of Spain) and fed cereal feed raised, and then processed in Spain, and cured for less than 8 months.

In Wine2Go App:
Click “Food” > “Cured Meat”
Find what wines pair well with different hams!

(Photo Credit)

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This entry was published on November 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm. It’s filed under Wine & Food Paring and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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