You've all heard it before: chicken or fish goes with white wine. Red meat goes with red wine. Well, I'm here to tell you, I think it's all bullsh*t. There are SOOO many factors to consider...and your personal preference is a big part of it.
Is the chicken served in a rich white gorgonzola sauce? Does the fish have sour cream and smoked salsa on it? These things all impact the flavor profile of the dish and change the range of wines that can accompany it.
Here's my ROT (rule of thumb):
- If you like white wine, have it, with whatever the heck you want. Same goes for red.
- If you want to talk flavors and what technically GOES with a meal, think about fat content and how "big" the flavors of that meal are. The bigger the flavors, the bigger the wine flavors need to be to hold up to it. A couple things to note about big wine flavors:
- Fruit forward
- Dark fruit or bright fruit
- Sweet wines are not ONLY for dessert! If they're balanced, meaning have a nice acid to compliment the sweetness, it can provide a really smooth drinking experience that can go with spicy and asian food.
- Let's talk about temperature. Whites served TOO cold will mask the fruit flavors...but if it's 95 degrees outside, grab a Sauvignon Blanc and throw some ice cubes in it and ENJOY that wine on a hot day. The alternative is grabbing for a cold beer or margarita. I vote...drink more wine!
Here's an example of me breaking the rules and it tasting SO SO SO good. Fresh caught Ling Cod (a light, low fat fish) and I served it with Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel. Well...it's mostly Zin (94%), but it also has 16% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignane, 2% Mourvedre.
This wine is not to be taken lying down. This thing has a full mouth feel, dark bush berry flavors, with smoke and tannin finish. Are you thinking..why the hell did I have this with Ling Cod? Well, I lightly breaded the fish, pan fried it, added a hefty spoonful of full fat sour cream and topped that with smoked tomato salsa that had mild spicy notes.
This was a match made in heaven because I added fat to the meal by frying the fish and adding sour cream and the salsa played well with the tannin and toasted notes of the wine. BAM! Rules broken and it never tastes so good!