1) Match weight and texture: So a light dish needs a light wine, and a rich dish a rich wine.
2) Match the intensity of flavor between the wine and food. One will have to take the lead, but the other should folow closely.
3) Either contrast the flavors of the food and wine, as with famous sweet and salty pairings, or allow the flavors to compliment each other as fruity, acidic Sangiovese does with tomaotes. This can work with textures as well, as when a sharp, acidic white helps to cut through the richness of a cream sauce.
Champagne & Caviar
Champagne and Caviar is not simply one of "the" party pairings, it's also a classic example of a complimentary food pairing. The lightness of texture and intensity exhibited by both elements helps to form a seamless experience. There is a hint of contrast here though as the fruit of the wine plays off of the salty tang of the caviar, further drawing out the complexity of both.
Pinot Noir and Grilled Salmon
The Pacific Northwest has always been famous for its fresh Salmon so it's no surprise that when Pinot Noir become the emblematic red grape of Oregon, it was paired with Salmon. What has come as a surprise is how well these two work together. The medium wieght of both match up well as do the subtle intensities of their flavors, but what seals the deal is the interplay between the salmon's richness and the fine edge of acidity that is the signature of Oregon Pinot Noir. Grilling the salmon gives the wine an added element that seem to help buffer any oakiness the wine may have.
Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese
While this classic match up has deep roots in France, first gaining fame when Sancerre was paired with the local goat cheese, it has since spread across the globe. The vivid flavors and vibrant acidity of Sauvignon Blanc cuts through the richness of the tangy goat cheese like al laser. This dance of wine and food features both the complimentary aspects of weight, texture and acidity, as well as the contrast between the fruity yet herbal wine and the creamy cheese.
Rioja and Paella
As with the goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc, this pairing arose out of necessity; what else would you drink with Paella except for the local wine? While there are many versions of Paella, one of the classics includes a variety of meats and seafood in saffron flavored rice. With such a complex dish it's a good idea to opt for a simplier wine to offer a single contrasting background note. A young, fruity Rioja with bright acidity is just the ticket; bold enough for the intense flavors of saffron and chorizo, but light enough to not overpower shrimp or chicken.
Muscadet and Oysters
One of the greatest examples of complmentary matching ever has to be Muscadet and oysters. This light bodied, minerally, almost salty wine comes from near the Atlantic coast of France and is yet another one of those matches made out of necessity, but boy does it work well. Both the wine and the oysters share a mineral edge, bright, brisk flavors and a lightness on the palate. The interplay of acid and salt in the mouth is a gentle contrasting note that helps bind the two elements of this match together perfectly