First off let me say that I am in no way a wine snob. I do not believe that there is an ultimate right and wrong way to pair wine with food. It all boils down to your personal taste and the tastes of your guests. Most people like to pair white wines with white meats and lighter meals like fish, and red wines with red meats and pastas. You can certainly mix it up, however. Experiment and go with what you think tastes good.
That being said, some people are still uncertain and like some general guidelines to follow. Here is a listing of some wines and the foods that go well with them:
If you are serving appetizers such as crab cakes or oysters on the half shell, try pairing it with a light, fruity Chardonnay. This white wine of North America is a favorite of many people and pairs well with light seafood fare. It is also a nice wine to sip on its own before a meal.
With appetizers like chicken wings or antipasto, serve a Pinot Noir. This red spicy wine goes well with both red and white meat and is a wonderful starter to a meal.
If you are having a fish or shellfish dinner, consider serving a Pinot Grigio. This wine is also excellent enjoyed with ham, veal, or pork.
An Australian Shiraz is a nice red wine that pairs well with both white and red meat. It has a sweet flavor that complements most meals. Serve Shiraz with duck, pork tenderloin, prime, rib, or herbed chicken. Shiraz is wonderful for its versatility.
Madeira is an excellent wine to serve with less sweet desserts like soufflé or angel food cake. Port wines go well with rich chocolate desserts or cheesecakes, and serve a Sherry wine with mousse or peanut butter desserts.
So there you have it. That is my interpretation of serving wine with food. The best way to know what to serve is to taste different wines and see what you like. The taste of a Chardonnay or a Pinot Noir can vary from brand to brand and region to region, so have a try and see what you like. Experimentation is the best part – with time you will learn what flavors you like and which foods will complement them.