For "bar food" like burgers or hot dogs or peanuts, beer is the perfect partner, the bitterness of the hops balances the heavy fat, and the sweetness of the malt accentuates the sweetness of the caramelized sugars in the food, but I can sort of be okay with soda as a substitute there.
With French and Italian food I just can't find a substitute for red wine, and the food just doesn't work without it. I take a bite of spaghetti carbonara, my mouth is full of cheese and garlic, now I need something to balance it, I take a sip of water - bleck, fuck, yuck, it doesn't work. It needs the acid and tannin of the red wine to play counterpoint. You have to go bite-sip-bite-sip. The problem is if you eat a ridiculously large amount, as I do, then you wind up drinking an awful lot too, which is not always what I want.