If you're planning a dinner party, being able to offer your guests properly matched wines with every course is a lovely extra touch. Figuring out how to do that can seem daunting, though; the world of wine is a complex and sometimes exclusive one, and many people feel like wine paring is "not for them". The good news is it's actually very easy to figure out some of the basics--and your tastebuds will thank you for it when you find out how delicious certain combinations are.
Perhaps the very simplest way to pair wines is to look at them regionally. The most obvious example of this is Italian food; a glass of Barbera Rosso with a rich Amatriciana bucatini is a beautiful thing. The concept goes deeper than Italian food, though--consider pairing Willamette Valley cheeses with an Oregon pinot noir, for example, or opening a bottle of a Baja Mexican red to go with your enchiladas. Not all regional pairings are perfect, but it's a good place to start; in many parts of the world winemaking and eating styles developed hand in hand, and it's a simple way to begin understanding how to match tastes. To give this idea an Australian twist, try serving homegrown wine at your next BBQ--both Zinfandel and Shiraz are great with a burger, especially if you've added some spice!
SALTY FOOD, SWEET WINE
Salted caramel chocolate and desserts have become ubiquitous in recent years, and people's palates are ripe for this kind of combination. If you enjoy maple bacon and other sweet+salt pairings, consider a sweet wine to go along with your saltier dishes; Australian Riesling goes particularly well with Asian cuisine. The combination of Sauternes white with Roquefort cheese is legendary. It's easier to find sweet white wines that work in combinations like this, but if you prefer a glass of red, then Beaujolais is the perfect contender.
FATTY FOODS, BITTER DRINKS
There's a reason that you're always told to serve red wine with steak: bitter tastes are a wonderful match with fatty foods. A classic Tuscan secondi piatti, for example, is incredible when served with a big well-rounded red like Bordeaux or Sangiovese--the more tannins the better. Port is a better choice for after dinner as its high alcohol content is usually considered too much for drinking with a meal, but it's beautiful alongside a rich fruity pudding. Just avoid serving wines like these with chocolate desserts--it seems a good combination to many, but in truth the similarly bitter aftertastes don't do anything for the flavour profile of either.