INCLUDE A LITTLE PROTEINThe weight of each dish should match the relative weight of the wine. Protein provides the weight in most recipes, but it doesn’t have to come from meat, poultry or fish. It can come from many sources such as breads, grains, legumes and dairy. Even umami loaded ingredients like mushrooms or soy sauce impart a protein-like weight.BALANCE WITH SALT AND ACIDWhen you drink wine, the alcohol can numb your palate a little and food can start to taste bland. Salt helps to amplify food flavors, soften wine tannins and polish acidity.Likewise, acidity in food – which can come from citrus, vinegar, fresh cheeses, or other sources – can temper the apparent acidity of wine. Make sure the acidity level of the food approximates the acidity of the wine so one doesn’t outdo the other. I find that a squeeze of lemon is the ideal acid to use – it brightens up wine and allows its fruit flavors to pop on the palate.STRIVE FOR A BALANCE OF MOUTH-COATING FLAVORSDetermine the amount and type of fat in a dish by the acidity or tannin in the wine. A high-acid white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc, will pair well with an acid-based fat like a lemon butter sauce. A tannic red wine, such as a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, will do better with a protein-based fat like butter or cream.CAREFULLY INTRODUCE SWEETNESS, BITTERNESS AND SPICY HEATThese ingredients are wild cards, inspiring both “love it” and “hate it” reactions. If you experiment, here are a few truisms. Sweet ingredients can help high-alcohol wines shine, but will make dry wines taste bitter or astringent. Bitter ingredients, such as radicchio or broccoli rabe, can make sweet wines taste dry and dry wines taste bitter. Sweet and sour balances can work with sweet or highly acidic wines but wreak havoc on dry wines. Finally, although spicy heat can usually be tempered by sweet wines, it will devastate dry wines.CONTRAST IS INTERESTING – SHAKE IT UP A LITTLECan you pair a flaky white fish with a big, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon? Sure you can – but balance the lighter weight of the fish with an umami heavy ingredient such as sautéed mushrooms. As Cabernet tannins cry out for fat, add a red wine-based beurre blanc. And don’t forget the salt! How about grilled flank steak with Sauvignon Blanc? That’s fine too. Lighten it up by turning it into tacos, add a coleslaw and garnish with an acid-based fat like guacamole.