Matching wine and food can get so complex that they invented a profession that's sole purpose is getting it right. Imagine in Year 12 if your career counselor told you that you could study to be a Sommelier and you would spend your days drinking wine and tasting food. You probably would have thought twice about studying finance.
It might be too late to make a career out of it, but it's not too late to up your game. Food and wine matching adheres to the 80/20 rule, so if you follow these simple tips you'll be well on your way...
The fattier the dish the stronger the red wine. And we'ree talking about good quality red meat fat, like a juicy Wagyu steak, not the processed type fat found in things like thick shakes. Why? Because stronger red wines have more tannins. What are tannins? They're the compounds within the skin and seeds of grapes, that make wines taste bitter. They cut through the fattiness and allow you to taste the quality of the meat. Go for Shiraz, Cab Sav or Malbec.
It's best to match acidity head on, otherwise either your food or your wine is going to dominate the other. So if you're eating any tomato based Italian dishes or Spanish style cured meats, stick to reds like Sangiovese or Tempranillo or whites like Chenin Blanc. They have a naturally higher acid level.
The trick with spice is to counter it with a little sweetness. Why? The residual sugar in a slightly sweet wine offsets and absorbs some of the capsaicin, allowing you to taste the underlaying flavours in both your delicious dish and the wine. Off-dry Rieslings are your safest bet.
HERBS AND SPICES
Cuisines like Indian, Moroccan, Mexican need wines that can match them in the flavour arena. Wines like red Grenache or white Viognier pack more of a herby flavour punch and can balance these dishes nicely.
And remember, if all else fails, Champagne goes with almost everything, and you always feel like a rockstar when popping the cork.
Be sure to check out The Wine Gallery for more help on the matching process; there's also a great selection of pre-selected wines available for order.