New Food and Wine Pairings:
Try something. Try having a glass of lemonade with a chocolate chip cookie. Did you hesistate at the very idea? Now, I'm guessing you probably don't even have to go through this charade to wonder how this could even remotely be considered a good idea. And if you don't have that reaction, then by all means, try it. Now once you're past that little exercise (either virtually or in real life), push aside the glass of lemonade, and pour yourself a glass of milk and drink that with your chocolate chip cookie. Ahhhh… a little more appetizing? A bit more palatable? Of course, but you knew that, already. Okay, long story short: lemonade and chocolate (or cookies) do not go together. Why? Well, I could probably go on and on, pontificating on the reasons, touching on principles of food chemistry and taste physiology, but honestly, none of that is necessary and might even be considered overkill. Quite simply, certain tastes together are just not compatible in our mouths.
And that, my friends, is the entire basis to matching wine with food!
If you can understand why chocolate chip cookies do not go with lemonade but do go with milk, then you've grasped the gist of why a certain dish goes much better with red wine than with white, or vice versa. The reason itself is really that simple. But is the actual process of matching that simple? You might have heard, as an old rule of thumb: 'red wines with meat, white wines with fish.' On the other hand, you might have heard that the rule is entirely outdated and nobody anymore pays attention to what wines you have with which foods, and so it doesn't matter. And well, in my own humble-but-firm opinion, that's just B.S.: it does matter. However, it matters in exactly the same way that drinking lemonade with your chocolate chip cookies would: hey, I wouldn't recommend it, but if you wanna do it, then you go on with yo' bad self! After all, the rules aren't really rules, per se; rather, they're tidbits of advice on how to make angels sing — rather than trains wreck — in your mouth. The rest is on you.
So does that mean that red wines are, indeed, for meats and white wines for fish and seafood? Well… yes and no. I mean, a great deal depends on how the meat or fish is prepared. Instead of focusing on the cateogry of what I'm eating, I think it's far more effective (and just as quick) to look at the color of what I'm eating. In general, I try to match the general color(s) of the foods and wines I consume. I've found, and with some experimentation, I think you'll agree, that darker meats and/or sauces tend to go best with red wines; conversely, lighter meats (fish, seafood, fowl, and pork) tend to go best with white wines. But pay attention to the way in which a dish is prepared! Light colored meat, if prepared with a dark or richly colored sauce, would probably best be served with a red wine. Examples of this are a tomato-based seafood stew, a pasta dish with red clam sauce, or a richly-spiced vegetarian Indian dish.
In the end, keep in mind that regardless of what you do or don't, it's not a big deal. After all, it's just like the lemonade and chocolate chip cookies: chalk it up as a lesson learned, and next time make sure to have the milk on hand.