The One Rule for a successful pairing of wine with a meal is simply a pairing that YOU enjoy.

Nevertheless, there are many traditional “rules” when it comes to pairing wine that you may choose to observe.

Some of these rules include:  

White wine goes best with white meats and seafood;
Red wine goes best with beef or red meat;
Sweet wines should be saved for dessert.

If these rules are not enough for you, here are some general tips to help you effectively broaden your creativity with wine at mealtime:

1- Go for complementary flavors or flavors that contrast. For example, a dish with citrus would be complemented by a fruity wine; a hearty stew would go well with a full-bodied wine; and a delicately flavored dish, such as poached sole, would be in good company with a dry, crisp wine.

2- Experiment freely with you own tastes

3- A wine high in tannins (Bordeaux, for instance) mated with a food high in tannins (like walnuts) will render the wine almost undrinkably dry and astringent.

4- Protein tends to calm tannins, so a very tannic wine might be divine when enjoyed with rare beef.

5- Delicate foods - veal, or filet of sole for example - will be overwhelmed by a full-bodied red wine. By the same token, a hearty lasagna will virtually cancel out a dry, medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc.

6- A wine can add its primary flavor to a dish, giving food a layer it didn´t start out with.

7- Some wine and food combinations result in a flavor that was not present in either one and is not meant to be - metal for instance. Try white turkey meat with red Bordeaux if you doubt this.

8- Sometimes it´s as though wine has been searching all its life for particular food and fireworks ensue.

9- Tannic wines make sweet foods taste less sweet; salty foods emphasize tannin.

10- Salty foods mute the sweetness and enhance the fruitiness of a sweet wine.

11- Wines that are high in acid taste less acidic with salty or sweet food; acidic wines also can offset oily foods.

Remember - let your taste buds guide you. Any combination you enjoy is a good combination!

Natalie Maclean
Food and Wine