There are six common flavor fundamentals for matching food with wine. Once you understand how flavors interact with one another, you can create a wonderful wine and food pairing for you and your guests to enjoy.
The basic fundamental flavors are: acid, fat, salt, sweetness, bitterness, and texture. When pairing food with wine, the main idea is to choose wines and foods that complement each other. Wines and foods that are exactly the same are not compatible. For example, you wouldn’t want to match a bitter food with a bitter wine. Too much bitterness would be overwhelming to the taste buds. In order to successfully pair wines with food, you need to create a balance.
When pairing a wine with an acidic food, it’s important that the wine have a higher level of acid than the dish. Otherwise, the wine will appear flat. White wines and champagnes would be a good choice for a highly acidic dish such as a grapefruit salad. Also a salad with vinaigrette has a much higher acidic level than a plan salad. Therefore, white wine or champagne would go well with vinaigrette salad as well.
Bitterness is found in red wines because of the high levels of tannin. Something with fat in it would complement the bitterness. A great match with bitter red wine would be a juicy steak. However, the spices that are used on the steak make a difference in how well it can be paired with the wine.
Acids and fat balance each other. Therefore, white wine added to butter sauce would create a great blend.
Just as acids and fat complement each other, so do sweet and spicy foods and wines. So if you were making a spicy dish, having a sweet wine would work very well.
Just as salty and sweet works well together in foods, it works well when pairing wine and foods. Therefore, if you are serving a salty dish you could add a sweet wine to complement it.
The same rule applies to texture. When things are different, they go well together, whereas too much of one thing does not. Tannin wines and fatty dishes go very well together for this reason. The tannins (found in wines like Syrah and Cabernet) create a dry sensation in the mouth. The silky, buttery texture of the fat will alleviate the dry sensation, which creates a delicious balance.