Wine Pairing, the art of pairing wine with food or food with wine, is a very personal pastime. There is some science to matching spicy foods with sweet wines or apple wines with an apple dessert, but most food wine pairings have more to do with individual tastes. Along with the taste of wine, scent plays a large part in what wines will pair well with what foods.
One very common food-wine pairing is cheese. The reason for cheese being served at many wine tasting parties is the large variety of cheeses to choose to pair with the large variety of vintage wines you may be pairing. Wine and cheese also go well together, complementing the tastes and bringing out the best of each other. Many cheeses mellow out the taste of wine, and many wines bring out the flavor of cheese.
But what about desserts on your menu? Common dessert wines or picnic wines are sweet, and complement desserts nicely. Ice wines pair nicely with fruit or pastries. Rieslings and cabernets are wines that make nice wine-food pairings with desserts. Chocolate is often looked on as a difficult food to pair with wine, however a rich port can pair nicely with decadent chocolate desserts.
While there are some good rules to follow when pairing vintage wines with food and cheese, these should be used as pairing guidelines only. The same is true for books and websites that suggest the best wine-food pairings. The best way to approach the enjoyable job of figuring out your own food-wine pairings is to try your favorite foods with the best vintage wines, and find a combination you like.
To get started with pairing wines and food, many vintage red wines go well with strong cheeses, pasta with red sauce, poultry, pork, beef and other game meats, and chocolate. Vintage white wines are often paired with mild cheeses, appetizers, seafood like shrimp or oysters, pasta with cream sauce, Asian food, fruit, and poultry. And finally vintage sparkling wines pair well with shellfish like crab and seafood in light sauce, medium cheeses, and are also popular paired with desserts and at special occasion menus like Christmas or New Years.