Fish with red wine? You bet, but here's a little tip: red wines, particularly medium-bodied ones such as pinot noir or sangiovese, match well with fully flavored fish such as salmon, tuna (not the canned kind) or swordfish. However, using these same wines with delicate seafood like sole, flounder or scallops will provide a sensation akin to running your fingernails down a blackboard.
Try matching a grilled fillet of salmon that has been dry rubbed with cumin, chili powder and brown sugar with a pinot noir like Domaine Serene Yamhill or David Bruce, or a sangiovese-based wine from Monte Antico or Cecchi Bonizio. Lock your lips around a glass of one of these wines after a bite of grilled salmon and you may start speaking in tongues. These same type reds do well with white meats such as grilled chicken, veal or all cuts of pork, too.
How about roasted pork tenderloin with Riesling, sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio?
Nah, it won't work because the fuller flavored meat will overpower the delicacy of these particular wines. But try a medium-bodied white such as 2008 Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay, 2008 Anselmi San Vincenzo (a round and crisp white from northern Italy) or (even better) a rosé such as Mulderbosch Rosé of Cabernet, and it works quite well.
Herb-flavored foods like those with sage, basil, rosemary or dill go great with the grassier-styled sauvignon blanc. Kenwood, Dry Creek and Murphy-Goode come to mind as good accompaniments to herb-enhanced foods like pesto, sage dressings, dill mayonnaise and asparagus, just to name a few.
I love fuller-bodied reds with pasta in a marinara sauce. I am not particularly fond of Chianti with this dish because I think it gets rolled over by the red sauce. I suggest zinfandel (Renwood Old Vines, Montevina, Ridge Geyserville) or blended wines such as Red Truck and Marietta Old Vines with traditional pasta in marinara sauce.
Sparkling wines are wonderful paired with salty or spicy foods. Try Pierre Sparr Cremant Brut or Domaine Chandon Blanc De Noirs with smoked salmon, popcorn or anchovies along with jalapeño and other hot pepper appetizers.
Gewurztraminer (Hogue, Columbia, Navarro) and Riesling (Ch. Ste. Michelle, Hugel or Clairborne and Churchill) are spectacular with oriental dishes, particularly sushi, maki Thai and spicy Chinese cuisine.
For chocolate desserts, save a little of that full-bodied cabernet from dinner and give it a try. I also love tawny port (Taylor or Fonseca) with nuts and blue cheese, and late harvest Riesling (Chateau St. Jean) with -- anything!
For more on the art and craft of wine, visit John Brown's WineBoy blog at thegazz.com.