Popcorn and Wine Pairings

It's National Popcorn Day and today's post is incredibly fun.... pairing wine with different popcorn recipes. And to take you through the story is my good friend Katie from The Somm Journey who is studying to be a sommelier.  Take it away Katie!

As we enter 2016 I am still continuously learning about obscure “national” holidays that relate to food, booze, and other ridiculous things. While most are quite odd: National Cream Puff Day, National Kazoo Day, National Applesauce Cake Day (why?)…there are others that are more up my alley: National Leave the Office Early Day (if this is real why hasn’t it happened to me), National Wine Day, National Beer Day, National Cheese Day (yes, please).

It was a very exciting moment for me the other day...I was skimming through this list of nonsense and came upon a most magical day in January. January 19th to be exact. Where you celebrate the popping of tiny little kernels into fluffy pieces of good ness and smother them with salt and butter. Why would I get so excited about popcorn you ask? Well, first of all, ITS POPCORN. Easily one of the greatest snacks of all time. And second all of, popcorn is one of my favorite funky foods to pair with wine. Thankfully, Olivia Pope of ABC’s Scandal has made popcorn and wine more common. So I am no longer alone. My thursday’s are almost always filled with drama, wine and snacks. But then again, so are my Monday’s, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s. Can we say helloooo to new Bachelor Ben. My Monday’s are complete again.

Sorry, I can’t help my tv obsessions.

But still, when people think ‘Food and Wine Pairing’ they imagine fancy restaurants, tiny appetizers, and wines they’ve never heard of. Although those are all things that still relate to food and wine pairings…it doesn’t have to be what it’s all about.

Popcorn is an extremely underrated wine pairing and people make a face when I talk to them about a good ole buttery Chardonnay with some buttery popcorn.

Do you want a side of butter with your butter?

Why, yes. Yes, I do.

To get you started here are a few of my pairing suggestions for popcorn and vino.

For those of you with a sweet tooth who enjoy any kind of sweet or caramel popcorn, try pairing it with an off dry or dry riesling. Rieslings are known to be perfect with sweet or spicy foods. And although there is no spice in caramel corn the acidity in the wine pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the popcorn and gives you a lingering flavor that will leave your bottle dry and bowl empty! Another great option would be a Gewurtztraminer as well. 

I chose to make a cinnamon and brown sugar popcorn and I paired it with a budget friendly Chateau St. Michelle Dry Riesling.  It was the first time I had ever tried their dry riesling. While the immediate flavor was very nice--it didn't last. The finish was short and left you longing for more. However, for this mini food and wine pairing it worked just fine. The flavor of the popcorn was sweet and slightly salty and paired well with the high acid riesling. Plus my wallet was happy I wasn't spending $30 on another german riesling. It's become my latest obsession. However, next time I think I'll go with an off-dry instead of a totally dry riesling. 

You can find the recipe for this popcorn HERE

For you classic, butter lovers stick with similar flavors and pair your buttery popcorn with a chardonnay or a champagne. However, nothing too oaky. You don’t want that flavor to over power everything else. Both bubbles and chardonnay are known to pair well with those salty and savory flavors.

I chose to go with a Spanish Cava. "Cava" is Spain's version of sparkling wine/champagne. This cava was bright with nice citrus-y flavors and well balanced acidity. I was once again trying something new and I think I found my new go-to for bubbles--not to mention I got TWO bottles for $15.95. Thanks BevMo.

 I also brought in one of my favorite chardonnay's from Wente Vineyards in Livermore, CA. Like I said, keep similar flavors together-- butter goes GREAT with butter.  It's under $15 at the grocery store, has great notes of tropical fruit flavors and good acidity.  It's aged 90% new French and American Oak to give it the creaminess and then 10% in stainless steel, which gives it those nice, crisp fruit flavors. Overall, this is one of my favorite chardonnay's to buy for a typical weeknight. 

Making this popcorn is fairly simple...pop your kernels, melt lots of butter and dump it in. Voila! 

I discovered a new recipe for Thyme or Rosemary and Parmesean popcorn that I absolutely had to try.  I unfortunately was not thrilled with the outcome. I implore others to give it a try and let me know what you think. Perhaps add more cheese? 

For this pairing I used a Newsome Harlow Sauvignon Blanc. Newsome Harlow is a winery located up in Murphy's, CA. They've got a ton of great zinfandels and one of my favorite sauvignon blanc's. Sauv Blanc's are usually very herbaceous white's. The typical nose for an SB is lemon grass, tarragon, basil, bell peppers, jalapeño, lime, white peach etc. So, it's only natural that I chose this wine to pair with my herbed popcorn. 

Here are the two recipes I used for thyme and rosemary

And for those of you who aren't as adventurous and like the classic salted popcorn…go for a Sauvignon Blanc as well. There aren’t a whole lot of flavors (besides deliciousness) here that will affect your palate so that SB will pair perfectly with that salty-ness.

Alright for all you Sriracha lovers out there…here is a  Sriracha recipe to try out. This would pair wonderfully with a dry riesling. Like I mentioned before, the acid and small amounts of residual sugar in the riesling really match well with spicy foods.  High alcohol reds are a no-go with very spicy foods. If you can handle heat: try to test this out yourself…putting a few red pepper flakes in your hand with a big cabernet (14% or higher). Taste the wine first, then eat a few of the flakes, then taste the wine again. That burning sensation isn’t pleasant, huh? If it’s available, try it again with a dry riesling. You’ll never eat spicy food the same way again!

You can find the Sriracha recipe HERE 

I had a phenomenal time going through each of these recipes and pairing them with different wines. I hope you go out and do the same and let me know what you think! 



Katie Beeks from Somm Journey