Many people mistakenly believe that they will ruin a meal if they make the "wrong" wine choice. The good news is that it's impossible to ruin a good meal if you select a wine that you enjoy regardless of what the "wine experts" say. Remember, the wine experts are not eating your dinner.
Breaking the rules
Having said that, there are some general guidelines you may find helpful when selecting a wine to enhance your meal.
1. Select light-bodied wines to pair with lighter food, and fuller-bodied wines to go with heartier, more flavorful dishes. Using the salmon example above, the Pinot Noir works beautifully with the fish because you are matching light to light. Otherwise a full-bodied, heavier wine will overpower a light, delicate dish, and similarly, a lighter style wine will not even register on your personal flavor meter if you sip it with a hearty roast. You may as well drink water.
2. Consider how the food is prepared. Is it grilled, roasted or fried, for instance, and what type of sauce or spice is used? For example, chicken with a lemon butter sauce will call for a different more delicate wine to play off the sauce than chicken cacciatore with all of the tomato and Italian spices, or a grilled chicken breast.
3. For every food action, there is a wine reaction. When you drink wine by itself it tastes one way, but when you take a bite of food, the wine tastes different. This is because wine is like a spice. Elements in the wine interact with the food to provide a different taste sensation like these basic reactions: