A few coded rules help to form perfect "marriages" of food and wine.
The accompaniments can be divided into:
Traditional The ones which link a regional dish to the wine produced in the same area. Not always correct, from a point of view of taste, as in the case of abbacchio alla romana, served with the white wine of Castelli, it is still however very pleasant.
To contrast the tastes When the sensation of the wine contrasts precise flavours of the food. Practical examples are those contrasting the acidity of the wine with the fatty flavour, the oily taste of the food with the tannic taste of the wine or the sweetness of a dish with the effervescence of a sparkling wine.
To bring out the flavours When the accompaniment tends to highlight the similar characteristics of the wine and food. This is the case of spicy dishes with wines with a strong bouquet, and sweet wines with puddings.
By similarity Elaborate dishes will be served with strong, full bodied wines, while lighter dishes will be accompanied by simpler wines.
The most appropriate accompaniments for wines that go with the food being served are for:
Hors d`oeuvres Dry, white wines, with a low alcohol content served chilled; for vinegar-based hors d`oeuvres you must serve naturally fermented ,sparkling, light red or white wines.
Soups, pasta, rice For vegetable soups or broth, dry white wines, slightly alcoholic and light wines are suitable. For pasta or rice with a meat or tomato sauce, light red and rosй wines are perfect, served at room temperature between 15 and 16 degrees; for plain pasta and rice, white wines are better.
Fish Light, white wines are suitable for poached fish; for fried fish, dry white wines, full bodied and quite alcoholic, 2-3 years old served chilled. For fish soups, like cacciucco, or fish cooked in a spicy sauce, light red or rosй wines which are not too alcoholic are preferable. Roast fish requires strong white wines, served very cold.
Meat White meat goes better with young, light red wines or even sparkling red wines. For stewed meats full bodied reds, with roast meats and game red wines are perfect, more or less aged, dry and full-bodied, served at room temperature.
Eggs White wines not too chilled are suitable for light crepes; full bodied reds with omelettes or eggs cooked with spicy ingredients.
Mushrooms Strong red wines, well aged.
Cheeses Red wines. For spicy cheeses strong red wines.
Sweet courses and fruit Liqueur-like wines.
There are however some foods which don`t go with any wine.
There aren`t many and the tendency at the moment is to try and find a valid accompaniment even in these particular circumstances. The most common foods of this type are:
marinated meat or fish with a lot of lemon and vinegar;
salads and vegetables dressed with lemon and vinegar;
artichokes and raw fennel;
plain dark chocolate (but not pralines, which have a good match!);
cold puddings and ice-cream;
fruit like grapes, figs and citrus fruits;
fruit salad doused with liqueur.