The basic rule for this, surprisingly enough is: “there is no rule”.
This being said, there is a few traditional rules: whites with fish and white poultry, reds with meat and game, rose or sweet white wines with spicy food, and dessert wines with dessert and chocolate.
Obviously the first and main decider is you though. For instance, I am quite “conservative” and will only drink whites with fish while a close friend of mine will only drink red never white. (I am still working on him after 25 years!)
Although tastes are individual, there is however a certain scientific basis for these food/wine couplings: fishes and poultry have usually light taste and therefore should not be overpowered by heavy reds; game and gamy poultry (duck, goose, partridge…) have a kind of bitter taste which complements very well the relatively soft taste of pinots (look at the tongue chart); very spicy food like curries will kill most wines and will better accommodate light, sweet wines like roses, sauvignon blanc, Verdelho and Semillon.
Let’s have a closer look at the art of food and wine pairing.
A good idea is to focus on achieving contrasts, exception made for desserts (which call for a sweet wine): e.g. a dry and crisp sauvignon blanc on a creamy risotto; a light and fruity red wine with a spicy or sour meat dish; a sweet white wine with a spicy Asian dish.
Spicy food will probably kill most wine and therefore should be enjoyed with a wine which can stand up to the spice with a good sweetness or fruitiness.
Food with bitter or sour taste should be accommodated with sweeter wines.
Some common food and wine pairings
You will see that the best combination is left to your personal taste buds.
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