There is so much misinformation out there about how food and wine should be paired up. Let’s start with the most widely stated “rule.” We’ve all heard that red wine goes with red meat and white wine goes with fish and poultry. This is pairing at its most basic, only useful on a very rudimentary level.
If meat were served, without sides, without sauces, and with minimal spices, this canard would be a decent rule of thumb for pairings. The reality is much more complicated. A piece of chicken, simply cooked, will match up very nicely with a Pinot Grigio. Throw that same piece of chicken on the grill and finish it with a strong BBQ sauce and your Pinot Grigio will probably taste thin and sour, but a Pinoit Noir, a Riesling, or a Zinfandel might taste incredible with it.
Fish should only be served with white wine, right? Not at my house. Salmon works great with Pinot Noir. Grilled salmon that has been basted with maple syrup can be amazing when paired with the right Shiraz or Zinfandel.
Okay, well you would never serve white wine with beef, would you? Why not? A tender, buttery fillet matched up with a big oakey Chardonnay works very well. Especially with certain sauces.
Which brings us to another less known rule, the one that says that wine should always be matched to the sauce used on the entree. This is a much better rule than the previous one. If you are the type who craves rules, this is the one to remember as it will rarely ever let you down.
Another rule that I have heard are that you shouldn’t serve blue cheese or asparagus with wine. While both can be problematic at times, it can be done. Many heavy, sweeter wines go very well with blue cheese and some Sauvignon Blancs are well suited to match up with asparagus.
Pairing wine with food is an art form that takes a lot of practice to perfect. The practice is more fun than humans should have and it only takes a little knowledge and thought to get started.
Look for more in-depth tasting articles to come.