Long ago, people drank wines made in their region with foods grown in their region. That system worked pretty well.
If you're stumped about which wine to have with a meal, look for something from the same general area as the food. Something that's part of the same cuisine is a good approach. If you're having pasta or another kind of Italian food, choose Chianti or a similar Italian wine. French food calls for French wine. With Wiener schnitzel, an Austrian veal dish, try an Austrian white wine such as Gruner Veltliner. If that's unavailable, a close neighbor such as a German Riesling should work.
Of course, you may enjoy foods from a country not known for its wines. Many people think that the best choice with spicy Mexican or Oriental foods is not wine at all, but beer. It may be easier to find a beer from same area as the food. Even that isn't simple, however. With the rise of microbreweries, beer and food pairing also has became a popular art.
Read on for another tip that plays on similarities.