1. Cook simple food to serve with older wines
Certain wines become more complex, yet mellower, with age. When I'm lucky enough to open a wine that should be great after several years in the cellar, I keep my menu simpleI let the wine, instead of the food, be the star. Herb-roasted chicken is nearly foolproof, because it doesn't distract from an older wine's nuances. If I plan to open an especially earthy wine, like a red Burgundy or a Barolo, I might opt to cook something equally earthy, like a mushroom risotto.
2. Prepare fatty meats to show off young, tannic reds
There's a reason California Cabernet is thought to be the perfect steak-house match: A rich cut of beef can do great things for a burly red wine, which could taste too overwhelming or harsh on its own. I've found that meaty dishesbeef, lamb or even certain game, like venison or duckmake the most sense with young, tannic reds, especially those from a warm climate like California, Spain or southern France.
3. Serve fried foods with Champagne
When I first heard that fried chicken was an amazing match for Champagne, I wrinkled my nose. Then I tried it: The lemony acidity and prickly bubbles cut right through the chicken's crispy skin. Since then, I've found that fizzy wines taste especially refreshing with golden fried foods, or anything salty that leaves an oily slickeven Chinese noodles and hot dogs.