Choosing a wine is no hit and miss affair. Obviously the guests’ preferences need to be taken into account as do other criteria such as the temperature and the season. But the main factor to be considered when selecting a wine to go with a meal is the harmony you wish to create.
There are classic rules about serving white wine with fish and red with meat. But there is much more to marrying food and wine than this basic precept. When successfully combined, the dish and the drink bring out the best in each other. The result is greater than the sum of the parts.
You can always count on a wine expert or merchant to recommend the right wine for your specific menu. But by respecting a few basic guidelines, you will be able to pick out the most appropriate wine yourself.
The most important thing is to balance the flavours. A smooth wine sits well with the acidity of a starter, whereas too powerful a wine could "crush" subtle savours. The order in which wines are served also plays an important role: it is advisable to start the meal with the lightest wine and end with the most full-bodied wine, thus following the classic blueprint of a meal composed of starter, main course and dessert.
But above and beyond these basic guidelines, the harmony between a dish and a wine is a question of specific alchemy, of balance. Don’t hesitate to try different combinations between the food and wine pairs presented here. There are a host of variations you can play with.