Myth: White wine with fish, red wine with meat
I work in a steakhouse, so everyone automatically asks what page the California cabernets are on. I think that's a horrible myth: You're just limiting yourself to the pinkie of the wine world when you're sticking with a Napa cab. At a place like this where we have a huge wood fire, everything's got char and smoke and all those grilled flavors, and those are delicious with big chardonnays.
A good rule of thumb is, "What grows together, goes together," so whenever I'm thinking about wine pairings, I'll think about what they're eating in that region. One of the places where they eat a lot of steak, which might be surprising, is Bordeaux in France. Of course, they have cabernet and merlot-based reds, but they also have these richly textured, smoky whites made from sémillon and sauvignon blanc and that's exactly what you want with a bite of steak.
Pairings can also depend on the chef. I worked with this great chef in New York, Gabriel Kreuther, and his food was so balanced that you could always find a great rosé, white, or red to go with the dish. It was colorblind cooking, in a way -- the color didn’t matter, you just had to match the texture.
And, lastly, it can be all about the sauce, not the protein. If you get a white wine sauce, even if it's a beef dish, then it's a white wine situation. Or if you do a white fish with an oxtail red wine ragu, then you're totally in red wine territory.