It's All About the Sauce
Food and wine pairing isn't really as esoteric an art as most people think. Success is the result of common sense. The problem comes when people either are intimidated by the whole process or don't know enough to apply common sense.
The basic idea is to choose a wine and a food that will enhance the other to give a complete dining experience. There are some possibly unfortunate interactions. The iodine in fish and the strong tannin in some red wines can combine to produce an unpleasant metallic taste. That's one of the reasons for the old "rule" that prohibits red wine paired with fish.
Beyond such unfortunate pairings, the main idea is to get a good balance, through either complementary or contrasting elements in the food and wine.
When you're trying to decide on the type of wine to serve, think about the most noticeable characteristic of the food. Often, the dominant taste isn't the meat or other sides -- it's the sauce. If the main dish is in a peppery or spicy sauce, an herb sauce, or a sauce with heavy cream, keep that element in mind.
Read on for more pairing insights.