The relationship between wine and food goes back a long way and there are long standing traditions governing the pairing of certain wines with certain foods. This proper combination of the appropriate wine with a delicious meal results in an enjoyable experience by all who are participating in the event. By choosing the correct wine the taste of the meal can be enhanced greatly and the same is true of the correct dish being served along with the wine. It is not necessary to spend lavish amounts of money at some exclusive restaurant to achieve satisfaction; you can have the experience in your own home.
The rules for pairing certain wines with certain foods goes back to the 1800s when French chefs were traveling throughout Europe and sharing their opinions on what wine should be drank with a certain meal. This is where the basis for serving white wines with seafood comes from and that of serving red wines with red meat and wild game. Sometimes in modern times these rules have been bent or broken due to more availability of a greater variety of wines.
The key to the proper harmony of wine with a meal is to always take care that the wine and the meal compliment one another and not compete with each other, for example serving a premium wine with a more average meal instead of trying to combine the best wine and the best meal all at the same time. Another key point is to serve regional wines with their equivalent local dishes, for example certain Spanish dishes are best served with a Spanish wine from the region the food originates from.
To help you make the right choices in matching the appropriate wine to a meal bear these things in mind:
Always consider the richness of both and choose a heavier full bodied red wine in most cases for a rich red meat or wild game meal. There are some white wines that could be appropriate as a matter of personal taste.
Never serve a dry wine with dessert, always choose a wine that is at least as sweet as the confectionary delight being served.
Wines that are higher in tannins should served with high protein meals which mix with the tannins and lessen the tannin taste. If you attempt to serve a high tannin wine with fish or other seafood they will sometimes give an unpleasant metallic taste or even taste bitter with salty dishes.
So keep the old rules in mind when making your choices but also remember that they can be bent a little in consideration of an exceptional wine or rare meal.