Most wine drinkers, I'm convinced, think wine pairing is a bunch of hooey. They drink what they like no matter what is served, because they like the wine, period. Wine "pairing" is as alien to them as zither music. It's a frivolous pursuit among snooty people, they think.
As I began to learn how regional European wines came to be, I developed a greater understanding of the relationship of the indigenous food to the historical wines of the region. That's how I discovered that Chianti seems to take to tomato sauce better than other red wines, and that Beaujolais tastes good with salamis and vinaigrette salads when other reds do not. The crisp white wines of the Loire Valley taste great with rich foods cooked in butter and cream sauces in the north of France, while the Cotes de Provence roses and reds taste better with foods cooked with olive oil and Mediterranean herbs.
I have more success drinking white wine with cheese than red wine. And high alcohol table wines taste hot and clumsy with most food. And spicy food kills the complexity in wine.
So for me, selecting wine for dinner is more than just drinking my favorite wine.
But what happens when I don't know what's on the menu, like this past weekend? What then?
In such situations there are a handful of wines I turn to that have proven themselves more versatile at the table than others. Pinot Gris (from Alsace or Oregon) is one variety, Vouvray is another. Dolcetto, Montepulciano and red blends from Puglia are what I turn to when I want an all-purpose red wines for Italian food. Semi-sweet German Riesling when I don't know how spicy the dish is. Sauternes with Roquefort. Stilton with ruby Port. Always.
But the red wine that offers more chances for harmony with the widest selection of food on the table has to be Beaujolais. I've drunk it with the aforementioned vinaigrette salad with success as well as Thanksgiving turkey, loin of pork, salami, sausages, prime rib, chicken, duck and even omelets.
But that's me (and everyone else at the table that night). It's not necessarily you.
For those who prefer to drink fuller bodied red wines than Beaujolais, I understand. If you're happy drinking them with tapioca pudding or chocolate bars or chile verde or sushi, go for it. If you don't mind the burn on your tongue, drink 'em up. If they make you feel good, great. I'm into feeling good. Always have been.
So I won't try to force you to drink wine you won't like, even though I might love that wine with the meal you're about to eat.
You're on your own.