A simple rule of thumb for matching wine with a particular dish is to choose a bottle from the same region as the recipe. ‘What grows together goes together’ is an old adage applied to creating recipes, but it’s also a good one for wine. In many of the traditional vineyard areas of Europe the wines have developed over hundreds of years in concert with the local foods and cuisine, so it does make sense.
Of course, a little care should be taken. Some regions produce a wide variety of wines (red, white and sometimes fortified – Sicily being one example) and a cuisine that ranges from heavy meats to delicate seafood. In such cases, the general rules about matching weight and textures naturally apply. But at least making a regional pairing narrows the choices a little.
So, a Coq au Vin (or something similar) calls for a red Burgundy. A cassoulet is begging to be matched with a Languedoc red. A Rioja would go perfectly with simply roasted lamb, or the various pork products for which Spain is justly famous. Or a Lambrusco with prosciutto, parmesan or ragu bolognese. A Wiener Schnitzel with Gruner Veltliner etc.
And let’s not forget the classic pairing of a Loire Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Menetou-Salon) with goat’s cheese!
Have a look here for one of our regional pairings.
This kind of pairing isn’t restricted to the Old World with centuries of food and pairing tradition. If you’re having a BBQ, think about red wines from countries where outdoor cooking is a way of life – Australia and South Africa. With a bit more fruit, higher residual sugar, and sometimes the smokiness found in the aromas a New World syrah/shiraz is just the ticket.
Have a look at these posts for more info on this topic.