Recently I read a fine article that addressed the age-old question, "What wine do I serve my guests if I have no idea what they like?". My answer would be to serve the wine you feel is most appropriate for the meal. This writer, however, was aiming for congeniality. She recommended Pinot Grigio for a white and Italian reds in general for most meals. I agree with these recommendations based upon my experience here tasting out wines. The Italians are always well received.
But what if congeniality is not your thing and what if you are having strongly flavored meats (sausage/game?) with onions and garlic and cabbage and you think you might even want to light up a cigar at the table? What if the wedge of cheese on the table is an extremely aged Gruyere with what looks like a new and evolving life form on its exterior...and it's looking right at you? What if you don't give a hoot about political correctness and beer actually sounds okay in lieu of wine but your other half says wine. Do I have a wine for you.
Actually at any given time this store will have a half dozen earthy, strongly flavored reds from around the world but mostly from Spain, Italy, or France. They are exclusively "food wines" as opposed to sippers which is why they don't show well at tastings even if I offer a slice of sausage or strong cheese to accompany them. People really want to taste "stand alone" wines, something that could be served as a cocktail. Occasionally though someone will have a break-through moment when the food sample really works with the wine and more than a little magic occurs.
The wines I am talking about in particular are Spanish blends of Garnacha, Tempranillo, or Monastrell or their counterparts in the French Cotes du Rhone or elsewhere. These kinds of red blends are made everywhere but Spain unapologetically revels in these "dirty" wines. "Dirty, foul, and proper" my friend says, meaning this is the way it should be. You really can't get dressed up to work in the yard, can you? That is, unless your understanding of appropriate attire is that which works for you and your purposes.
It is all subjective in the final analysis and wine choices are not of ultimate importance anyway. Far from it. But if you want to try a stinky Spanish red, see me and cite the blog for a 10% discount. Also see the "Bomfim" blog from May 16th for further exposition on the subject.