A good rule of thumb is to match the flavors in the food you’re serving to wines that are about the same strength and potency.
You probably wouldn’t serve ice cream with lemonade, for example, because they are so different in weight and sweetness, but you would serve cookies with milk because they are both kind of rich and sweet. Coffee and dark chocolate go together because both have strong, powerful flavors.
You can apply the same concept to pairing food with Bordeaux wines. As long as the wine’s basic qualities (body, or the way the wine feels in the mouth; acidity, or how tangy the wine tastes; and depth of flavor, or how “strong” it seems) are similar to the food, you almost can’t go wrong. Whether you serve fish, poultry, red meat, casseroles, pizza, pasta or rich cheese, Bordeaux wines are really versatile.
It’s traditional to pair the subtle flavors of oysters or trout with white Bordeaux, because they are all light-bodied and delicate in flavor. A richer fish like salmon might work out well with a lighter Bordeaux Clairet, because both have a moderate balance of tastes. And steaks and lamb are natural partners for Bordeaux Rouge because they have stronger, richer, deeper flavors – just like the wine.
See our Food & Wine Pairing Section for some fresh ideas.