The point is, experience conquers fear.
It’s hard to go wrong
This is crucial to understand. If you’ve chosen a wine that you like with a dish you like, but they don’t go well together, how bad is that really? You are left with good food and good wine, and you can enjoy both.
More importantly, every misstep in naming situations like this is an opportunity to learn and build on what you know now. You have had an experience that you will remember for much longer than some advice you may have read.
So-called mistakes are useful and an integral part of gaining experience and learning. They should be embraced rather than feared. Another colleague asked me, what kind of wine goes with a sour dish like panzanella, a Tuscan salad with stale bread and fresh tomatoes?
I know from experience that fresh tomatoes go best with crisp white wines. Many Italian white wines would be great, although the wines don’t have to be Italian in this case. Aligoté from Burgundy and Sancerre would be delicious. But could you drink a red wine with this? Sure, especially if it’s not oaky or tannic.
Almost never one wine is the right and only choice. You don’t have to worry about choosing the perfect bottle as many bottles are the right choice and very few are wrong.
That said, I have two major exceptions: the first are old, fragile wines, especially the rare and expensive ones. In such cases, the wine takes precedence and the food follows. Almost always, the simpler the dish you offer, the more flattering it will be to delicate aged wine.
The second exception is wines that are tannic, oaky or extremely alcoholic (more than 15 percent). These types of wines are difficult to pair with many dishes, as they are essentially unbalanced on their own or perhaps too young to drink. Some wines that are naturally high in alcohol, such as Amarone, or fortified wines, such as port, will at least go well with cheese. But a 16 percent pinot noir? It’s hard to enjoy food.