Food pairing is not solely about the “meat of the meal.” You have to look beyond chardonnay with chicken. Cabernet with beef. Pinot noir with pork. Far more important are the accent flavors and textures—seasonings, crusts, toppings, spices, cheeses, and salt. The best part? If you are intentional with how you flavor your dish, you can wine-pair with most any food.
For example: How do you customize your chicken recipe to pair better with your favorite wine?
Do the math
When a wine and food combine, an almost mathematical experience occurs on the palate: Any flavors present in both the food and the wine tend to cancel each other out, allowing more subtle flavors to shine through.
For example, consider the classic and beautiful pairing of goat cheese and sauvignon blanc. Sauvignon blanc: (acidic) (fruity) (mineral or grassy) and goat cheese: (acidic) (creamy) (salty). When the crisp sauvignon blanc slices through (or rather, divides) the smooth goat cheese, and acidities cancel each other out, what results is a beautiful flavor experience.
The primary beauty of a food pairing is when one bite and one sip have an incredible reaction on the palate; when they create a flavor sensation that neither on its own could do. In a sense, what remains isn't just one food plus one wine, or even one wine dividing through the flavors of a food, but the pairing’s components times Y. The Y factor is the indescribable sensation that couldn't come from the food or from the wine alone, but that results in a quasi-chemical explosion of flavor and pleasure across the palate: the sweet, the telling, yum.