Wine is an excellent drink to sip with a meal or by itself as a way to relax at the end of a long day. When choosing a wine to go with dinner, many people who do not drink wine regularly are uncertain as to which one to choose.

Servers can be helpful at times if they are familiar with the different types of wine, but more often than not they just give a standard recommendation.

Here is a simple guide to clear up some of this confusion and help you decide when asked: Red or White?

Sipping wine with dinner is not just something to do in restaurants; for some, it is a way of life. France and Italy are two countries that produce some of the best-tasting wines in the world. The different varieties are named for the region where the grapes are grown. The French and Italian people view eating and drinking differently than Americans in the fact that they celebrate a delicious meal and savor a glass of wine.  Food and wine go together.

Red Wine with Beef

The old rule of red wine with beef and white wine with fish and poultry is still true.  The tannins in red wine are strong and are more suited for hearty dishes of beef, game and organ meats.  Tannins are what give wine its tart flavor. Fish, on the other hand, is a delicately flavored meat and requires flavors that are equally light to go with it. A perfect example of this is Beef Stew or Hungarian Ghoulash paired with a hearty burgundy or Bordeaux. Some beef dishes are cooked with red wine so it works perfectly.

Fish or Chicken with White Wine

White wines like Chardonnay, Riesling, Zinfandel and Pinot go well with lightly-flavored fish and poultry dishes, while Champagne and sparkling wines are often served with dessert. White wines produced from white grapes are often flavored with melons, strawberry, pear or pink grapefruit. Sweet wines are good as dessert wines accompanying a plate of fruit and cheese or saucy fruit compote.

Wines for Pasta Dishes

The classic drink for a meal of spaghetti, ravioli or any other pasta with red sauce is Chianti or Barbera.

Red wines made from red or purple grapes are often flavored with black cherries, currants, blackberries, raspberries, plum, vanilla and other spices. Red wines tend to have an earthy flavor with fruit undertones.  Red wine can be sweet or dry.  The more tannin the wine has in it, the flavor is tarter. In the case of blended wines, the tannins are diluted by mixing with sweeter, lighter wines making the flavor smooth and removing the tart flavor. Merlot is a blended wine and goes well with many dishes.

Finding Your Favorite Flavors

If you are new to drinking wine the only way to know what you like is to try them. Many bars and restaurants hold wine tastings quite frequently and the cost is minimal. You are given a small glass of each wine to taste and give your opinion about. This is how many wine sellers introduce new wines is to bring them to wine tastings. A good starter bottle should not cost more than $25 to $50 depending on where it was made.

Bringing Wine to a Dinner Party

This will be easy if you follow the rules above. Ask what the hostess is serving for dinner and you will know the appropriate color and type of wine to bring. White wine, sparkling wine or Champagne is appropriate for a cocktail party or holiday celebration.

Hope this clears up a lot of the confusion associated with wine and food. Now that you have a little knowledge of wine, and how it reacts with food, you will be better equipped to order with confidence at your next dinner meal out.

This guest article was contributed by Melissa Drake. Melissa is passionate about writing on about food and beverages. This article is written on behalf of Wine List Finder  the official wine lists of restaurants and bars across the USA.