Let's see if I can help you out.
It is very common to serve different types of wine with multi course meals. In fact, doing so provides great diversity and adds to the culinary experience for you or your customers.
However, you must be aware of a few things. First, tannins in wine, especially red wine, tend to go nicely with foods that are higher in fat content. The tannins will literally bind with the fat and protein and clean the pallet after each mouthful. However, the same process can work against foods with less fat and leave a chalky sensation or a metallic after taste.
Many confuse a wine's tannins with its alcohol content. Alcohol content determines a the "dryness" of the wine. The higher the alcohol content, the less residual sugar and therefore, the wine has a "drier" taste in the mouth.
Tannin, on the other hand, is a substance found in the skins, seeds and stalks of grapes. Tannins provide a wine's complexity and adds both bitterness and astringency to the wine. Wine's with higher tannins, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, will pair nicely with well marbled red meat such as steaks and roasts. Wines with high acidity also do well with fatty foods. Point in fact, a white wine butter sauce.
Where many people go wrong is when they confuse alcohol with acidity. This is a very easy thing to do because many of the factors of the acidity + fat category overlap in the category of alcohol and fat. A higher alcohol content wine should be generally avoided until the dessert course. The common sense logic is you don't want your guests to get plastered while they are eating the main course or before. (NOTE: when wine is made, 14% ABV is the most alcohol that is going to be made by the fermentation process. Wine with an alcohol content above 14% is almost certainly fortified).
So, having said all this, the best way to approach wine pairing is knowing what DOES NOT go well with certain foods. Once you know the "dont's," the "do's" are all that is left over. Then, it becomes more of a personal preference and that is where the art of wine pairing lives and breathes (and the fun )
Here are some don'ts.
- High tannin wine and nuts such as Walnuts or nuts with skins;
- Low acid wine and high acid food;
- High tannin wine and high tannin food like dark chocolate, cinnamon, grapes and pomegranates;
- Tannic wine with fatty or oily fish such as Cod, Salmon etc.;
- Avoid "oaky" or tannic wines with spicy food;
- Avoid high alcohol wine with spicy food
Generally speaking: acid + acid = good. Tannin + tannin = bad. Tannin + fat = good. Tannin + low fat = bad. Low tannin + low fat = good. Alcohol + fat = good. Tannin + sweet = bad.
It is very important to remember that wine pairing is by definition a matter of opinion and preference. What may be good for one person may not be good for another person. There is no better example that I can think of than the pairing of red wine and chocolate. For the life of me, I cannot understand why so many people like to pair these two. All red wine has tannins and those tannins fight a bloody battle with the sweetness and tannins of chocolate in the mouth. To me, its like playing death metal through broken speakers at ear bleeding volumes. However, to others, its heaven on Earth.
Once you understand the generalities of how wines interact with food, pairing the two will become easier. However, there is no substitute for experience and that can only come from trying out difference combinations. Like I said, that is where the fun is.
I realize that I am speaking in generalizations, however, ff you provide some specifics in terms of your courses, I can provide some more specific answers and advice in terms of pairings.
If you have any questions or need any more info, please let me know.