Red wine with red meat, white wine with white, or light-colored meats and fish, right? Not necessarily, you may be pleased to hear, especially if you've ever felt obliged not to order the Shiraz because you were enjoying an excellent Chardonnay, or passed on the Pinot Noir because the grilled salmon sounded to good to miss.
The food and wine pair should enhance each other. If one is big and bold, and the other small and quiet, the balance is lost.
For example, a light-bodied red wine with minimum tannins would be quite suitable with lobster, but completely overwhelmed by a barbecued steak. A complex, robust white, such as a good Dry White or some Chardonnays, can stand up to lamb, beef, or even game.
In choosing a wine match for your food, you might not even want to think about the meat or seafood involved, but rather how it is prepared. Roasted chicken with a wild mushroom sauce would go well with a medium-bodied red wine, while the same chicken, this time sautéed with lemon and tarragon, would go better with a dry white.
Not only seasonings, but regional custom as it has developed around certain dishes, can influence the wine selection: a Chianti complements gnocchi alla marinara with gusto; a medium-bodied red or rose complements bouillabaisse, and other rich seafood dishes perfectly. And if wine itself has been used in the food preparation?
A similar wine by the glass makes an appropriate accompaniment. While pairing wine and food of similar character makes a good general rule, there are always exceptions.
This one might be known as "opposites do attract." Hot and spicy dishes, for which Indian, Mexican, and Thai cuisines are famous, are soul mates with fruity, sweet white wines such as Rieslings, Gewürztraminers, and Chenin Blancs.
All this talk about character is not to say that the conventional wisdom of color matching does not have some merit.
To begin with, it is easy to remember, and a good starting point into the tangled vineyard of wine appreciation. It can also be traced to some basis in wine character. For instance, on the one hand, white wines tend to be more acidic than red wines, which mean they tend to do well to cut through the oiliness of fish dishes.
On the other hand, a subgroup of red wines tend to be more robust and complex than the average white wine, such as certain Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir blends, which means that they tend to be the best choices for heavy red meat dishes.
Salad, by the way does not do well with any wine, given the acidity already imparted by the vinegar in the dressing.
In the end, enjoying a good meal of food and wine should not feel like a chemistry class. Too many rules dampens the fun and experimentation with what best pleases your own palate.
As in life, it may be hard to entirely predict or explain why a food and wine are compatible, but if it works for you, do not let others' raised eyebrows spoil your appetite.But whatever wine you want with your meal, Portugal offers you some really outstanding choices.