Wine and Food pairing is an extremely personal pastime, drawing from the background, culture, and habits of each person. In the end, it comes down to what an individual enjoys, and what combination works best for that person.
The sensation wine gives you – flavor and aroma – does not come chiefly from your tongue. Your tongue has “zones” for each type of flavour it can taste, so you want the wine to be able to go over each section. The tip senses sweet, the front sides salt, the back sides acid, and the
very back bitter. Even in each section, there are buds of different “intensities”.
In comparison with this well-organized but generalizing tongue, your nose is incredibly sensitive at picking out minute differences in aroma. Practice often with both senses, paying attention to the flavors you are detecting in the wine, learning what combinations you enjoy and do not enjoy. The more flavors you try in your day to day activities, the greater the “background of taste knowledge” you will have when you try to figure out what a particular wine tastes like.
You don’t want the food to completely overpower the wine, so you cannot taste it at all. Conversely, you don’t want the wine to be so strong that you can’t taste the meal. Some sort of balance lies in the middle.
Do you match like with like? Or do you add some contrast, so the spiciness in the meat stew balances against the slightly sweet wine? Either method works, as do countless others. Part of the fun is to experiment with different combinations, to see which strike your own palate as truly delicious. Then, share those with others to see which tastes they also appreciate, and which are uniquely yours.