Wine rules are more like the pirate’s code: more of a set of guidelines.There’s considerable room for experimentation and expression of your own personality in pairing food and wine. The rules for wine pairing have relaxed a bit, but the fact remains that certain flavors of food and wine mix better together than others. Remember, rules are meant to be broken and the best pairings are the ones that bring you joy.
Syrah: Matches with highly spiced dishes
When a meat is heavily seasoned—like Asian-Spiced Pork Shoulder and Cumin-Spiced Burgers—look for a red wine with lots of spicy notes. Syrah from Washington, Cabernet Franc from France and Xinomavro from Greece are all nice choices.
Grüner Veltliner: Pairs with dishes that have lots of fresh herbs
Austrian Grüner Veltliner’s citrus-and-clover scent is lovely when there are lots of fresh herbs in a dish. Other go-to grapes in a similar style include Albariño from Spain and Vermentino from Italy.
Pinot Noir: Is great for dishes with earthy flavors
Recipes made with ingredients like mushrooms and truffles taste great with reds like Pinot Noir and Dolcetto, which are light-bodied but full of savory depth.
Dry Rosé: For rich, cheesy dishes
Some cheeses go better with white wine, some with red; yet almost all pair well with dry rosé, which has the acidity of white wine and the fruit character of red. This makes it the go-to wine when serving a wide range of hors d’oeuvres, from crudités to gougères.
Sauvignon Blanc: Goes with tart dressings and sauces
Tangy foods—like Scallops with Grapefruit-Onion Salad or Sour-Orange Yucatán Chicken—won’t overwhelm zippy wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Vinho Verde from Portugal and Verdejo from Spain. The bright, citrusy acidity acts like a zap of lemon or lime juice to heighten flavors in everything from smoked sablefish to grilled salmon.
Zinfandel: For pâtés, mousses and terrines
If you can use the same adjectives to describe a wine and a dish, the pairing will often work. For instance, the words rustic and rich describe Zinfandel, Italy’s Nero d’Avola and Spain’s Monastrell as well as Creamy Chicken-Liver Mousse.
Pinot Grigio: Pairs with light fish dishes
Light seafood dishes, like Seafood Tostada Bites, seem to take on more flavor when matched with equally delicate white wines, such as Pinot Grigio or Arneis from Italy or Chablis from France.
Malbec: Won’t be overshadowed by sweet-spicy barbecue sauces
Malbec, Shiraz and Côtes-du-Rhône are big and bold enough to drink with foods brushed with heavily spiced barbecue sauces like Chicken Drumsticks with Asian Barbecue Sauce
Chardonnay: For fatty fish or fish in a rich sauce
Silky whites—for instance, Chardonnays from California, Chile or Australia—are delicious with fish like salmon or any kind of seafood in a lush sauce. Try Sizzling Shrimp Scampi or Crisp Salmon with Avocado Salad.
Cabernet Sauvignon: Is fabulous with juicy red meat
California Cabernet, Bordeaux and Bordeaux-style blends are terrific with steaks or chops. The firm tannins, the astringent compounds in these red wines that help give the wine structure, refresh the palate after each bite of meat.
Champagne: Is perfect with anything salty
Most dry sparkling wines, such as brut Champagne and Spanish cava, actually have a faint touch of sweetness. That makes them extra-refreshing when served with salty foods.
Rosé Champagne: Is great with dinner, not just hors d’oeuvres
Rosé sparkling wines, such as rosé Champagne, cava and sparkling wine from California, have the depth of flavor and richness to go with a wide range of main courses.
Off-Dry Riesling: Pairs with sweet & spicy dishes
The slight sweetness of many Rieslings, Gewürztraminers and Vouvrays helps tame the heat of spicy Asian and Indian dishes. In addition, when confronted with dishes like a fiery curried chicken or Thai stir-fry, wines that are low in alcohol keep the oils that make food hot from being overly accentuated.
Old World Wines: Are intrinsically good with Old World dishes
The flavors of foods and wines that have grown up together over the centuries—Tuscan recipes and Tuscan wines, for instance—are almost always a natural fit.
Moscato d’Asti: Loves fruit desserts
Moderately sweet sparkling wines such as Moscato d’Asti, demi-sec Champagne and Asti Spumante help emphasize the fruit in the dessert, rather than the sugar.
This was (mostly) stolen directly from Food & Wine and reprinted here so you don’t have to click 15 times to see it all. If you are looking for more specific pairings check out the table at Gourmet Sleuth.