The dinner-and-a-movie experience has taken on a whole new meaning. Forget about trekking out to the theatre where you have to crane to peer around heads, or strain to hear the dialogue over the conversation happening two rows down. Plan on staying in with a big bowl of popcorn and a good bottle of wine. It’s true: popcorn and wine make great bedfellows.
Purists will tell you to begin with hot home-made popcorn tossed in real butter and sprinkled with Parmigiano, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. The problem with microwave popcorn is that it can sometimes taste artificial and metallic. But, you really don’t have to worry about it if you don’t want to. There are so many styles of wine available that working out a pairing to any flavour of popcorn is definitely possible.
Plain buttered popcorn typically matches very well with a little bubbly. Don’t pop your best Champagne. But definitely try an Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava. Sparkling wine has nice acidity and yeasty qualities that marry well with popcorn. A little acidity, like that of a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc, will cut through the richness of the butter and the cheese. Wines that have a little residual sugar or intense fruit, like Riesling, also work. The sweet edge counteracts the popcorn’s saltiness. A crisp, fresh and fruity rosé, like the 2007 Mas Des Bressades Cuvée Tradition Rosé would be a good pick, too.
Since I had a few containers of Club House flavoured popcorn shakers in my possession, I thought I’d come up with my own wine and popcorn matches. The first, All Dressed, is generally a combination of all the flavours, including butter, barbecue, salt and vinegar. This one might stump me right at the starting gate. How can one possibly match wine to something that’s made up of so many flavours? Riesling would be a safe choice. Its tendency toward sweetness would be a good bet here. The general consensus is that red wines clash with popcorn. The tannins are too heavy and the flavours too complex. But, I actually found two medium-bodied reds with good fruitiness that worked for me. The 2005 Bosco Eclipse Montepulciano d’Abruzzo displayed notes of cranberries, violets and cherries, and the 2005 Rosenblum Syrah Vintner’s Cuvée had aromas of white pepper, boysenberry and a hint of smoke.
The second seasoning, Ragin’ Cajin, is, as its name suggests, spicy. I tried Organized Crime’s 2006 Gewürztraminer with its notes of rose petal, nutmeg, cloves and lychee nuts. The wine’s crisp and spicy-sweet flavour seemed to provide balance well with the taste of the popcorn.
The final flavour, Nacho, was going to be challenging. It’s hard to match that cheddar cheese flavour with anything other than, say, beer. If beer happens to strike your fancy, then, by all means, pour yourself a glass and enjoy. Apart from the cheese, there was a definite cumin flavour dominating the seasoning. I tried a couple of different reds, but they overpowered the popcorn flavouring. My choice of wine for this tricky flavour would be either a Gewürtztraminer or a Riesling. Both wines easily cut through the cheese and are refreshing, to boot.