You need to try these four delicious, easy-to-make popcorn & wine pairings.
The most wonderful time of the year is upon us – and by that, I don’t quite mean Christmas (just yet)… The return of winter television!
Whether it’s a friend’s apartment or my own humble abode, one of my favorite cool climate activities is curling up in sweats and catching up on my favorite TV shows. And with sub-zero temperatures blanketing Chicago this week, that’s likely the only social activity I’ll be planning…
If you’re anything like me (slash human in general), snacking and prime time television go hand-in-hand.
For me, the go-to is always popcorn… And wine, obvs.
As a result — and in relevant, true Olivia Pope fashion — I’m partnering up with my friends at Cupcake Vineyards to ensure you’re ready to host (or contribute to) your next wine and Pope-corn (lol) pairing.
First off, let me just say: I had to do a lot of research (and taste-testing!) for today’s post, as wine pairings haven’t always been my flavorful forte. I drink a lot of it, sure; but appropriately balancing it with a sweet-or-salty side-dish? Who knew there was such a science behind this? As a winter weekday homebody, though, I decided to add it to my culinary bucket list.
For each of these recipes, I’d recommend using an air-popper (versus store-bought, pre-packaged popcorn) as it’s a lot healthier.
Another trick is to pop your popcorn kernels in the microwave — put a few tablespoons (4-5) in a brown paper bag and add a teaspoon of oil. Then fold it up, shake gently and keep it upright, microwaving until you hear 2-3 seconds between popping sounds (usually around 2.5 minutes).
Now, twist off the cork, pop some, err, corn, and let’s get set to savor the lip-smacking possibilities… Consider it handled.
Four Easy to make, Must-Try Wine & Popcorn Pairings
1. Classic Butter
Pair with: Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon
For some of us, it’s the more butter the better. (Movie theater-style, anyone?) A full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with lots of juicy red fruit is your best bet here. The one I’ve featured below from Cupcake Vineyards has fruity notes of blackberry and dark cherry — it’s really easy to drink and has a smooth, silky finish.
2. S’mores Popcorn
Pair With: Cupcake Prosecco
The name says it all… And honestly, how didn’t we think of this sweet combo sooner? It’s so freakin’ easy — and delicious. The addition of melted marshmallows, graham cracker crust, and chocolate chips is ah-mazing.
Here’s how to make it:
- Pop your popcorn kernels in an air popper (or using my brown paper bag in the microwave trick) and spread them in an even layer onto a baking sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper.
- Sprinkle semi-sweet chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and crushed graham cracker.
- Place in the oven under the broiler for two or three minutes — until the chocolate melts and the marshmallows begin to brown.
- Remove, let cool and serve immediately with a crisp-tasting Prosecco.
3. Parmesan Herb Popcorn
Pair with: Cupcake Pinot Noir
Surprisingly, this was one of my favorite flavor pairings — and maybe it’s because this Pinot Noir is my favorite from the Cupcake Vineyards family. (When it comes to red wine, I love a hint of spice.) Herb-infused popcorn seasoned with fresh parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme tastes ah-mazing when served alongside a sweet red, though a crisp white or sparkling wine would work too. Pick up some Marcona almonds to add a little extra crunch to the mix.
4. Cinnamon & Sea Salt Popcorn
Pair with: Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc
Cinnamon is delicious, but it’s also great to combine with carbohydrate or starchy snacks (like popcorn) because of its natural ability to balance your body’s blood sugar.
I love the combination of sweet and salty, and this easy recipe definitely doesn’t disappoint. It’s simple, easy to make and delicious. Just air-pop your popcorn, toss with a little olive oil and each spice (adding more according to your taste).
I should add: I’m not normally a white wine drinker, but this one’s natural zest and acidity makes it very drinkable — regardless of the season.
And if the aforementioned popcorn styles aren’t your forte, here’s two more options to consider:
- Craving a fist-full of fluffy white cheddar-flavored popcorn? Cheese-flavored popcorn pairs well with anything — in my opinion — but best, accordingly, to a flavorful Pinot Noir.
- If you’d prefer a healthier air-popped version, this pairs well with lightly chilled sparkling wines, such as Cupcake’s crisp-tasting Prosecco. Drizzle your kernels with a dash of sea or truffle salt (if you’d like) hot off the stove and serve immediately. Warm, crunchy and a bit ‘o bubbly.
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Lastly, here are a few ideas and general rules of thumb to help you further create the ideal (i.e. Instagram’able, duh) Girls’ Night environment:
- Use placeholders to inform guests of what’s what. Mine are from Crate & Barrel, but these copper styles from CB2 are adorable.
- If your living space could use an upgrade, up the ambiance with texture — think furry throw pillows, textured blankets and candles. Cozy!
- Rather than paper towels, use cute linen napkins like these — the last thing you want is white cheddar fingerprints on those brand new silk throw pillows. Linen napkins are easy to wash, create less of a carbon footprint and will feel a little bit fancier in your guests’ hands. (Go with a festive set like these for the holidays. Sur La Table has a ton of options, but I like this style that’s on sale.)
- If you’re gonna freeball the pairings, it’s all good: Just make sure your wine is sweeter than your food.
- If you’re planning to do more than one pairing, it’s recommended to start from lightest to the darkest. So start with a crisp prosecco before you get into a heartier cab, for example.
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Thanks to Cupcake Vineyards for partnering on this post. All opinions are, of course, my own.
©2016 Cupcake Vineyards, Livermore, CA