Wine and Barbecue Pairings for Your Summer Cookout

Summertime has arrived, and it’s getting hot. It’s time to fire up the grill and create a delicious meal of your favorite barbecue recipe. Just thinking about it is probably making you thirsty. But what if you’d rather enjoy a glass of wine with your barbecue? No problem! 

Pairing food and wine is about balancing flavor profiles to create combinations that enhance rather than overpower each other. Choosing the right type of wine to go with your barbecue should elevate the entire meal and experience. 

But there are so many different wine options available. This is where things can quickly get confusing. It’s not always as simple as saying a white or red wine will do. Here is a guide to bring you the best possible results, so you’ll enjoy your next barbecue and be a hero in front of your guests. 

General Wine and Barbecue Pairing Tips

Before getting into specific types of wine for your barbecue, here are some general tips to consider:

  • Your primary goal should be to match the similar characteristics between the wine and food, such as the acid, weight, and intensity of flavors. 
  • Contrasting flavor profiles is another way to balance the taste of your meal. For example, sweet and spicy or salty and sweet are excellent combinations. 
  • The bold flavors you get from smoked foods can overpower some lighter wines. When trying to pair wines with these bold flavors, consider bolder options. 
  • It’s not always accurate to pair white wines with fish or red wines with meat. For example, red wine pairs better with grilled salmon, which has a bold flavor, and white wine might pair better with chicken or pork. 
  • Temperature is important. Even the boldest red wine should be served at room temperature, which is considered about 65 degrees. But if it’s hot outside, the wine might need to be slightly chilled to get there. 
  • If possible, avoid serving wine out of plastic cups or glasses. This impacts its taste. 

Wine and Barbecue Pairings for Your Summer Cookout

Another way to pair barbecue and wine is based on the type of meat you are grilling. Here is a breakdown by the kind of barbecue and wine:

Steak and Ribs

Steak and ribs generally go well with a full-bodied, bold red wine, like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec. But if you slather your ribs in sauce, you can match those spicy flavors with a nice Zinfandel or Syrah. 


What’s a backyard barbecue without burgers? For classic beef burgers, you’ll want to choose a wine with some tannins, like a Cabernet Sauvignon. If you’re cooking turkey burgers, you can select a more fruity wine, like Pinot Noir. Finally, veggie burgers pair well with white wines like Chardonnay or Gewurtztraminer. 

Hot Dogs and Brats

If you like to dress up your dogs or brats with salty condiments, you should pair it with a dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc. But a well-seasoned sausage would taste amazing when paired with a Spanish Tempranillo or Italian Chianti. 

BBQ Chicken

If you grill your chicken without BBQ sauce, consider serving it with a sweet wine like a Pinot Gris or Riesling. If you douse it in your favorite sauce, you may wish to pair it with something like a Zinfandel. 

Grilled Fish

If you’re grilling white fish, match it with a lighter wine like Verdejo or Friulano. But salmon should be paired with something like a Chardonnay or Beaujolais. 

Grilled Veggies

Nothing is more delicious than fresh veggies straight off the grill. If you are cooking veggie skewers with peppers and zucchini, you can pair them with a light-bodied white wine. Grilled corn would taste amazing when served with an off-dry Riesling or unoaked Chardonnay. 

Sweet Treats

What if you plan to include some treats with your barbecue? For example, you might decide to make s’mores, which would pair well with a dessert wine like a port. On the other hand, a peach cobbler would pair better with a sparkling or light white wine. 

Get the Best Barbecue Supplies and Wines at Nick’s of Clinton

Now that you know how to pair different wines with your barbecue dishes, you can start planning your next summer cookout. Nick’s of Clinton offers one of the largest selections of wine, beer, and spirits in Southern Maryland — all at the most affordable prices. And our full service meat counter is the centerpiece of our store. 

Come to Nick’s of Clinton to choose from a wide variety of wine selections and the finest quality of beef, pork, chicken, and seafood. If you need help with your selection, just ask! Give us a call at (301) 843-2825 or stop by our location on St. Charles Parkway in Waldorf. 

European Wines vs. American Wines

European and American wines have a lot in common. But there remain some key differences between the two that can impact your experience. As you try more and more of these wines, their unique qualities become even more apparent. Here are some of the major differences in the way wine from Europe is made and labeled versus wine from the United States. 

1. What Grapes Were Used?

One of the most striking differences between European and American labels is the naming of the grapes. Specifically, American wines will tell you what type of grapes were used to make the wine. They even have rules in the U.S. governing this. For example, if a grape is named on a California wine, 75% of that grape must be used to make the wine. European labels typically don’t mention the type of grape used to make the wine. 

2. The Locations Listed

A European wine is generally labeled by its growing region. Soil composition and climate can impact grapes, giving the wine a unique or subtle flavor. So wines produced from the five classic varietals in the Bordeaux region are called “Bordeaux.” But wines produced in the U.S. are more likely to be known by their creative brand names. At the same time, American wineries can use trademarked European names as long as there is a qualifier, such as “California Bordeaux.”

3. Alcohol Content

Lower alcohol content is the norm in European wines. This is partially due to the tradition of drinking wine with meals in Europe. But, in the United States, alcohol levels in wine have increased over the past several decades. This can make American wines more challenging to pair with food. 

4. Government Warnings

Another interesting difference is that all grapes have sulfites in them. But American labels are required to note the presence of sulfites, and European ones are not. In the U.S., wine bottles must also carry the Surgeon’s General’s warning about alcohol consumption while driving or pregnant.  

5. Wine Consumption

Over the years, wine consumption in both Europe and U.S. has changed a great deal. For example, Americans are drinking more wine, and wine consumption is actually falling in some European markets. This is complicated even more by the fact that Europeans don’t buy much American wine, but Americans do consume European labels. 

6. Age of the Wineries

Of course, the European wine industry is much more established than its American counterpart. There are 10th generation winemakers in France and only a few 2nd generation or older ones in America. At the same time, the newer wineries in the U.S. are more likely to experiment and innovate. So, there is something to be said for a wine steeped in tradition as well as one that is willing to try something new. 

7. Differences in Style

But how do they taste? At one point, it was thought that European wines were more acidic, less fruity, and more balanced than American ones. This may not be entirely accurate today as new growing regions and varieties have evolved. 

For example, Washington and Oregon are now producing some highly-balanced wines that are reminiscent of some French varieties. And Portugal, Spain, and Southern France can produce fruity wines just as well as California. 

8. Co-Ops Are Different

Both Europe and the U.S. have wine co-ops. But the way these function are completely different. In Europe, a label that is co-op is a group of growers and winemakers that pool their grapes, winemaking, and marketing resources. Together, they produce wine under a single label that is consistent and highly rated. 

In the U.S., a co-op is simply a location where smaller wineries can lease space to produce their wine. In some instances, a winery will rent the total number of cases they plan to produce at a facility instead of the physical space. 

9. Wine Labeling as Art

Most European wine labels chose a design that could be considered minimalistic. You aren’t likely to see anything flashy but rather get the information you need about the product. But American labels are more apt to be bold and artistic, showcasing the character of the underlying winery. 

Need Help Choosing the Best Wine – European or American?

Whether you’re on team Europe or America when it comes to wine, you might still be wondering which type of wine or label should be in your grocery basket. Fortunately, Nick’s of Clinton can help. Nick’s is your hometown grocer in Southern Maryland, offering one of the largest varieties of wine, spirits, and beer in the region, also at the lowest prices. We’d be happy to offer suggestions and, if we don’t have what you need, we can special order it for you. Visit us today to discuss the items and quantities you need. 

The Best Spring Wines

With spring upon us, now is the perfect time to transition from those heavier reds of winter to lighter, fruitier, crisper wines. At Nick’s of Clinton, we have all of the wines your heart could desire, as well as delicious options for food pairings and top menu items. Visit us today to learn more about our selection and find the perfect bottle for a romantic evening, a relaxing night at home after work, or your next dinner party. In the meantime, read on about some of our favorite wines for spring—

Best Types of Wines for Spring

When the months warm, heavier, fuller-bodied wines may lose their appeal, as may the foods that they often accompany. To keep up with the seasons, consider mixing it up with some of these warmer-weather wines for spring and summer—

  • Young Pinot Noir. If you love red wine and can’t imagine giving it up for the summer, you don’t have to! A young pinot noir will give you that red-fruit flavor without getting too deep and funky—this is why finding a young pinot noir is very important. This wine will offer crisp and bright raspberry flavors that pair with nearly any protein dish. 
  • Prosecco. Yum! What’s better than a glass of bubbly on a warm day? Whether you’re celebrating or just craving some fizz, this is a perfect light wine that you can drink nearly any time of day and pair with nearly any food item. We love prosecco with fresh fruit. 
  • Pinot Grigio. Another white wine that is crisp and fresh and perfect for light summer meals is pinot grigio. Pinot grigio is a very light and dry wine that traditionally features undertones of pear, stone fruits, and lemon. 
  • Rosé. Rosés are a fantastic choice and can be consumed from spring through summer and into the fall. Rosés can be sweet or dry—in the summer, we recommend something lighter and drier. Try a sparkling rosé for an extra pop! 
  • Dry Riesling. When most people think about rieslings, they think about sweet wines. However, dry rieslings are a great option for summer, and will help you to avoid the headache the next day. Most rieslings also have a modest level of alcohol, making them a perfect choice for weeknights. 
  • Sauvignon Blanc. Finally, a spring wine list wouldn’t be complete without a sauvignon blanc. There is a lot of variety in sauvignon blanc, and it’s hard to go wrong. Known for its high acidity and citrus flavors, you’ll love this wine all season long. 

Best Food Pairing for Spring Wines

Now that you’ve selected the best wines for spring, it’s time to pair them with some delicious meals. While food pairing will vary slightly depending on the wine of choice, most of the following items will go great with any of the wines listed above!

  • Grilled fish and other seafood
  • Shellfish
  • Smoked fish and chicken
  • Greens and vegetable salads
  • Goat cheese
  • Figs
  • Fresh fruit, especially berries and citrus
  • Grilled chicken
  • Duck 
  • Pork

While red meats are typically paired with red wines, we believe that good food and good wine always go hand-in-hand! If you’re not a fish person, consider pairing your wine with duck or pork. A steak salad can also be a great option! 

Where You Can Buy Spring Wines Near You

At Nick’s of Clinton, we have a wide selection of wines of all types (and yes, we do have red wines available too!). Our team can guide you through your wine options and help you to select the perfect wine for whatever meal you have in mind. We also have all of the groceries that you could possibly need, making us your one-stop shop for all of your dining desires. If you’re in a rush and don’t have time to put together a full menu, we also have pre-prepared dinner classics available. Just reach out to one of our team members and let us know what you’re in the mood for and how we can help. 

Come to Nick’s of Clinton for All of Your Shopping Needs

As the weather continues to warm, we recommend branching out from your usual wines to try something lighter, fruitier, and crisper. At Nick’s of Clinton, we have the selection of wines that rivals any wine store, as well as the food pairings that you’ll love. To learn more about our store and how we can help you prepare for any event, ranging from a solo dinner to a large party, visit our store today. We look forward to seeing you! 

The Best Types of Wine for Valentine’s Day

The Best Types of Wine for Valentine’s Day

Of course, any evening with a nice bottle of wine is a good one. But, what about those special occasions like Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re celebrating your first Valentine’s Day as a couple or your 40th one, taking the time to fix a delicious meal and appreciate your time together is one way to make the occasion memorable.

And nothing can complement a perfect Valentine’s Day meal quite like the ideal bottle of wine. Whether your plans consist of the ultimate snack spread and a movie or a candlelit gourmet feast, here are some of the best types of wine to include in your Valentine’s Day plans this year.

Champagne as a Classic Choice

Of course, champagne is probably the first thing most people think of when it comes to celebrating love. A sparkling wine produced in northern France, champagne is made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier grapes and can come in a variety of styles. Some foods that pair well with champaign include fish and lobster, anything with mushrooms, scrambled eggs (think brunch), cheese, pasta with cream sauce, and even potato chips.

Chardonnay with Your Cheese Platter

It’s hard not to picture sitting by a roaring fire having a glass of wine and some cheese with the one you love. After all, wine and cheese are the perfect pairing. Chardonnay is always a good choice for your wine and cheese time, but you can make adjustments depending on what type of cheese you plan to serve. For example, Chardonnay is a full-bodied white wine. So, it pairs well with semi-soft and soft cheeses like brie, camembert, and gruyere.

Chianti with a Pasta Dish

If you’re planning a simple, romantic Italian dinner for Valentine’s Day, you’ll want to pair your pasta with the right Italian wine. A classic Chianti is a medium-bodied red wine that is an excellent choice with tomato-based pasta dishes. Check out a Chianti Classico, referring to wine from the original zone where the vintage originated. If you are planning to serve creamy pasta dishes, you might want to opt for a chardonnay instead.

Pinot Noir with a Charcuterie Board

If you want to go beyond a cheese plate to a full charcuterie board, you may wish to choose a rose or light red wine with higher acidity like Pinot Noir. This is the world’s most popular light red wine because it has soft tannins and notes of strawberry, earth, and rose, making it slightly sweet. This type of wine goes well with those same soft and semi-soft cheeses as well as the meats, nuts, and other items you’ll find on a charcuterie board.

Cabernet Sauvignon for Meat-lovers

Maybe your special dinner plans call for cooking a nice cut of meat like a Chateaubriand, Porterhouse, Ribeye, or Filet Mignon. If you and your loved one are meat lovers, a bottle of cabernet sauvignon is an excellent choice. Made from the world’s most popular grape variety, this wine is grown in warm climates like California. It gives a dry, rich, spicy, and fruity flavor, which pairs well with red meat dishes.

Valpolicella with Pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza? Some couples wait for a special occasion to make or order a pizza. Or maybe you would rather spend your time together rather than cooking and cleaning dishes. Either way, an Italian red wine with moderate tannins is the ideal match for your Valentine’s pizza meal. Valpolicella is a medium-bodied red wine that is light, dry, and fresh, making it a perfect match for various types of pizza. More specifically, try Valpolicella Russo, which will have hints of black and red cherry along with herbs that complement the pizza’s tomato sauce.

Riesling with a Spicy Meal

If your Valentine’s Day meal is going to have an extra kick to it, make sure you pair it with a Riesling. This aromatic, slightly sweet white wine is the perfect complement to any spicy dish. So, if you plan to have Mexican, Indian, or Thai food, the low alcohol and sweetness of the Riesling will temper some of the heat of the meal.

Let Nick’s of Clinton Help With Your Wine Choices

If you have any questions about choosing the right wine for your Valentine’s Day celebration or any other meal, feel free to ask one of our associates directly. Nick’s of Clinton has a dedicated liquor department, offering one of the largest varieties of wine, beer, and spirits in Southern Maryland – at the lowest prices. We are always happy to assist with suggestions or even place a special order for your upcoming event.

Choosing the Right Wine for Any Meal

Selecting the right wine to go with your meal can be intimidating. While a poor choice is not likely to ruin your lunch or dinner, the right pairing can significantly enhance just about any dish.

The good news when matching food and wine is, you do not have to memorize any complex systems to create the right combination. It’s not rocket science. Of course, it is always fun to experiment to create dramatic matches, but that is a more advanced strategy. If you are just looking to get your wine choice right, a few simple guidelines will help you make the most satisfying food and wine pairings.

Consider Your Guests’ Wine Preferences and Experience

Before you narrow your focus too much, consider what your guests might like as well as their experience with wine. Do they prefer red or white wine? Have they stated a preference for a certain country, region, or varietal

If your guests are fairly new to wine, they might not notice the distinction between your thirty-dollar bottle and one that costs a hundred dollars or more. But, if they have extensive wine tasting experience, they will likely recognize the subtle differences in varietals and even be able to distinguish a particular vineyard.

Compare the Intensity of the Wine With the Dish

When thinking about how to pair wine with food, make sure you consider the intensity of what you will be consuming. For example, a full-bodied red wine doesn’t pair well with a lighter dish that has delicate flavors. But a white wine does.

Likewise, few white wines are going to pair well with a heavy, rich dish that has bold flavors like red meat. But a red wine typically suits this type of dish well.

In general, you should pair appetizers and desserts with white wines and the main course with red wines. There, of course, are always exceptions.

Choose a Semi-Sweet or Sweet Wine for Salty Dishes

If you are going to serve a dish that contains a lot of salt, it is a good idea to counter that with a semi-sweet or sweet wine. This creates more of a balance on the palate. Some examples of sweeter wines include Moscato, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Champagne.

A few low-tannin red wines can also work in this situation. Examples are Pinot Noir and Beaujolais. A rosé wine is another option.

Select an Acidic Wine for Acidic Foods

Are you serving highly acidic dishes containing foods like tomatoes, citrus, and fish? If so, you should pair your dish with an acidic wine like Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Albarino, or Champagne. These high-acid wines also pair well with oily or fatty dishes because they help cut through that oil and will cleanse the palate.

Choose a Well-Known Label

Maybe you are a fan of a specific label but are not sure that your guests will appreciate it as much as you do. Unless you believe that it will be a sure hit, it might be better to save it for another time. You are more likely to impress your dinner guests with your pairing abilities if you choose a major label, such as one from Sonoma, Napa Valley, or Santa Barbara.

Combine Wines With Food from the Same Region

As a general rule, it is a good idea to combine foods and wines that come from the same region. For example, a Chianti will complement well with your favorite Italian dish, and a Riesling is going to pair favorably with a freshly prepared German schnitzel.

Choose a Rosé or Sparkling Wine as a Safe Bet

Maybe you do not know what’s on the menu or aren’t sure about your guest’s preferences. In either case, you are generally safe choosing a bottle of rosé or sparkling wine. Both are incredibly versatile and will go with just about any dish. And most people are happy with either.

Match Your Dessert Wine to the Dessert

The pairing doesn’t stop once the main course is complete. You should switch wines and complement your dessert wine according to the sweetness of your dessert. This is more complex than it sounds. Your wine should be at least as sweet as the dessert, or you will not be able to discern the complexity of the wine.

Get Help with Your Wine Choices

If you have any questions about choosing the right wine for your meal, feel free to ask one of our associates directly. The liquor department at Nick’s offers one of the largest varieties of wine, beer, and spirits in Southern Maryland – and at the lowest prices. We are always more than happy to make suggestions or even special order something for your upcoming event.