Reams and reams of writing have been produced on matching wine and food. Entire books in fact – some of them rather excellent* – have been published on the subject. But in my experience you can boil the ‘facts’ down to five simple rules –
Regionality Rules – if a dish comes from a specific region or country then it is highly likely the local wines will turn out to be perfect accompaniments.
Match Light with Light – and consequently heavier foods with heavier wines. You don’t want the wine you are drinking to be overwhelmed by the wine and vice versa.
Match Sweet with Sweeter – a dessert that is sweeter than the wine can make it taste nastily sharp. Select a wine sweeter than the dessert.
It’s All In The Sauce – if you are struggling to find a wine look to the sauce. How many times have you seen a rear label proclaim ‘good with chicken’? The differences between a spicy chicken curry and a coq au vin are immense.
What Else We Got? Full flavoured chutneys or salsas can all affect the taste of the wine, you might need to trade up in the body stakes to cope.
* One such recently published book published at the end of last year I am enjoying immensely; review post to come.