There is sufficient disagreement about the subject of food and wine matching to instigate small private wars whenever strong opinions clash over the wine to be enjoyed with a meal. The classical approach, while strongly adhered to by some, is being abandoned in favour of more recent, and possibly more trendy, standpoints. Each opinion is strongly argued for by those proposing it, backed by seemingly flawless reasoning, and while they differ greatly, all have an element of truth.

Those who abandon any rigid structures will boldly venture towards uncharted waters and insist that rigid guidelines are a load of tosh. The latter proponents explain how liberating oneself from the shackles of Hugh Johnson's bible of food and wine matching will lead to unlikely though pleasant matches. Taken to an extreme these might propose that since one never has food and wine in the mouth at the same time, matching is useless. Naturally, the consequence of such a radical approach will range from serendipitous synergies that delight and surprise, to horrors that will ruin both the wine and the food selected.

On the other side of the spectrum are those who study the rules with the meticulous attention of waltzing porcupines and obey them rigidly, only ordering an item on the menu if the recommended wine match is available. Following respected matches is the safest approach and an oaked Cabernet with the smoky flavours of chargrilled fillet are almost guaranteed to please the most classical of hedonists.

Being a believer in compromise I'll take the liberty of expressing an opinion once so much advice, often gratuitous, is dispensed all round. The truth probably lies half way between the extremes. Wine is indisputably a fine art and like any art the classical approach is a good start. It is only when the rules are known inside out that one may risk bending and eventually breaking them. The old adage solicits white wines with fish and reds with meat. All is well and good there, but once one has exhausted most possibilities within those parameters it might be the time to try a more audacious pairing.

So what I would choose, and this is totally subjective, would be a slight variation on the prescribed guidelines that remains within rational limits. Recent pairings that I have been pleasantly surprised with include: