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Flavorful Sparkling Wine and Popcorn Pairings

Sparkling wine and popcorn? YES! Admit it, you’ve had carbonated beverages with salty treats before. This just ups your game! Here are some fab combos. It all begins with basic popcorn.

truffle salt and herb blend

Blanc de Blanc Champagne with Truffled Popcorn

This classy combo is perfect for kicking off the weekend on a Friday night or closing out the year on New Year’s Eve. After all, blanc de blanc Champagne is a classic! A brut or extra brut version that is crisp and dry (in other words, not sweet) is a refreshing contrast to the saltiness of the popcorn.

To make the popcorn, substitute truffle salt for regular salt. Beware – not all truffle salt is created equal! The one we use in our house contains 10% real truffle. That’s 2% more than most others. It’s also actual black summer truffle, not truffle “flavor”. For extra flavor, add a splash of truffle oil to the butter. A shaving of orange zest created a version the hubby will not stop talking about.

Sparkling Grüner Veltliner with Ranch Popcorn

This sparkling wine and popcorn pairing is a fun combo for board game night, or your game day viewing party. If you haven’t tried sparkling Grüner Veltliner yet, here’s the perfect excuse to seek it out! An impressive bottling comes from Syncline Wine Cellars in Washington State. Note:  this is not a paid endorsement, I just really like their wine!

In this take on seasoned popcorn, simply substitute ranch seasoning for salt. World Spice Merchants in Pike Place Market makes a fantastic herbaceous blend that’s quite different than packaged ranch dressings found in grocery stores. I also like to substitute some or all of the butter with good quality extra virgin olive oil.

Sparkling Rosé or Sparkling Syrah with Smoky Popcorn

The next time you’re binge watching Netfilx, serve up this sparkling wine and popcorn pairing! Crémant is a terrific alternative to Champagne, as it’s made using the same method but comes from different regions in France. As such, it is likely to also be crafted with grapes beyond the traditional Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, or Pinot Meunier. For example, a Crémant de Loire I recently purchased features a blend of Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc.

Gourmet salts are widely available in grocery stores and specialty shops these days. Even the hubby was able to track down an alder smoked salt to tuck into my Christmas stocking. It’s a tasty alternative to regular salt on popcorn. Just remember, a little goes a long way!

sparkling wine

Cava with Garlic Popcorn

Cava is another sparkling wine made in the Champagne method offering great value. Coming from Spain, the grapes traditionally used are Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada.

For years now, I’ve seasoned my popcorn with garlic powder and salt. It might sound simplistic, but packs a lot of flavor.

Update! Some great comments were received on Instagram resulting in some additional noteworthy pairings:

Via Nick Berube, Wine Comm Guy:   I prefer a little heat on my popcorn like chili powder. Might work well with an off dry sparkling.

Per Rick of the blog Strong Coffee to Red Wine:   Ah popcorn with parmesan cheese and Lambrusco.

From Nancy (yes, another Nancy!) of the blog Pull That Cork:  I love California olive oil and salt on my popcorn paired with about any bubbly!

As the guys from the podcast We Like Drinking say, “You’re going to need more popcorn.”

There you have it, a basic snack just got more interesting. Go pop up the corn, unpop the cork, and share your favorite popcorn and sparkling wine combo on social media!

Additional posts on wine and food pairing:

Ammunition Wine Offers Bang for the Buck

For months I’d seen images of Ammunition Wine come across my Twitter feed. I have to admit, when I see a bunch of wine loving peeps on social media creating a buzz over a particular wine or wine brand, it piques my interest. So, I was excited when a shipment of sample bottles from the California winery arrived at my door!

The box included bottles of the Ammunition Wine Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and “The Equalizer” red blend. While each bottle contains different varieties, it could be said that all of these wines are pleasant, easy drinkers.

From the bottle: 

The Taste of Freedom

Raised in families of outdoorsmen, we created these wines as a tribute to our fathers and as an expression of the freedom that resides within the American Spirit

For some background on the founders, Briscoe Bites offers an enlightening story.

Sonoma County Pinot Noir

Food Pairings for Ammunition Wine

2017 Pinot Noir SRP $28

The Pinot Noir composed of fruit from Sonoma County comes across as bright and fruit forward with classic cherry and red fruit characteristics. We enjoyed it with my hearty Lentil Salad.

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon SRP $23

Sure to be delightful with classic Cabernet Sauvignon pairings, we savored this substantial Paso Robles Cab with a substantial tomato based pasta dish.

2015 Equalizer Red Blend SRP $23

The dark and brooding Equailizer red blend is full of dried plum, red fruit leather, and tobacco notes. Those qualities make this easy weeknight drinker perfect for hearty winter braises.

If you’re making a New Year’s resolution to explore more wines, incorporate some Ammunition Wine into your experience. These quaffable wines are priced from $23-28 and offer a lot of bang for the buck. Hunt some down for yourself!

A Tale of Two Carménères

Is there a big difference between Carménère grown in Chile versus Carménère grown in Washington State? I put them to a taste test and was surprised by what I discovered.

Although Washington State is home to roughly 70 varieties, there are not a lot of Carménère vines planted. So when I received a sample bottle of a new release of the variety from Davenport Cellars I couldn’t wait to experience it! I also wanted a point of reference. So I picked up a bottle of Carménère from Chile to see how the two compare.

Washington State vs. Chile

With the first whiff of the ruby red Davenport Cellars wine, one word came to mind. Granted, it’s not something I say in everyday conversation. It is, however, a word emphasized by a sommelier when I participated in an advanced wine sensory class last winter. That word is rotundone. Simply put, it’s a peppery characteristic. In this case, it was present as a pronounced aroma of white pepper. Each delectable sip of this wine confirmed the presence of that spicy trait.

Here’s where things get interesting. When tasting the Chilean Carménère, the first thing I noticed were strong notes of bell pepper. Although bell pepper is herbaceous, and white pepper is spicy, both are referenced to as rotundone. Sipping this wine was like tasting a bite of veggie pizza with green bell pepper, black olives, tomato sauce, and sprinkled with oregano.

It shouldn’t have come as a shock that each of these wines conveyed flavors of peppers, as Carménère is known for its high level of pyrazines. That’s another fancy word for an aroma compound identified by its noticeable pepper traits. What caught me by surprise was that one wine roused my senses with its vibrant spicy character while the other taunted with an intense green and herbaceous nature. If all Washington State Carménère is this distinctive and lively, I must have more!

It’s not often that I share my tasting notes and opinions of wines. What I taste and experience is just that – my experience. Nevertheless, I hope by sharing this particular tasting it will inspire others to explore Carménère for themselves.

In the interest of full disclosure, I work with Davenport Cellars in Woodinville Wine Country. I have long been a fan of this husband and wife owned winery.

The Wines

Davenport Cellars 2015 Carménère
Available direct from the winery for $30.
This Woodinville based boutique winery produced just 77 cases of this wine crafted with fruit from acclaimed Seven Hills Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley.

Concha y Toro Casillero Del Diablo Carménère 2017
Available online via U.S. retailers for around $8.

If this does encourage you to try Carménère, please share your findings on social either via Twitter or Instagram and #LetsTalkAboutWine!

Want to learn more? A great resource on wine is the latest Wine Folly book.

Pairing Cabernet Franc with Food

Cabernet Franc is one of my red wines of choice when pairing wine with food. Although the red grape is similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc is not quite as full-bodied. This makes it a better match for the type of meals I prepare at home. Those meals are often composed of roasted vegetables seasoned with herbs, and void of red meat. With an herbaceous character, and often notes of bell pepper (for you wine geeks, that’s called pyrazine), Cabernet Franc is a wonderful pairing partner.

Food Pairing Cabernet Franc
Herb flecked Farrotto pairs well with Cabernet Franc

Tips for Pairing Cabernet Franc with Food

Match the wine with food using similar or contrasting flavors:
♦ Raspberry ♦ Black Currant ♦ Green Bell Pepper

Use one of these base ingredients:
♦ Beef ♦ Lamb ♦ Game ♦ Duck ♦ Pork ♦ Eggplant

And/or use these bridge ingredients:
♦ Basil ♦ Bay Leaf ♦ Garlic ♦ Rosemary ♦ Oregano
♦ Red Sauce ♦ Roasted Veggies ♦ Mushrooms ♦ Hearty Grains

Use these cooking techniques:
♦ Grilling ♦ Roasting ♦ Stewing

Try dishes such as veggie pizza, herbed farrotto, pasta with hearty red sauce, pepper steak, roasted vegetables, mushroom ravioli, roast pork with fruit sauce.

Paring Cabernet Franc with food isn’t the only way to celebrate this magnificent variety. If you’re a fan of the grape, be sure to mark your calendar! Cabernet Franc Day is on December 4th each year. Many thanks to Dracaena Wines for dedicating a day to this grape.

Easy Curried Sweet Potato Soup Recipe

This sweet potato soup is not only full of flavor, it’s a healthy meal. After all, around the big food holidays isn’t it wise to cook light to balance out the indulgences? Yet, a flavorful soup like this for dinner helps us feel that we’re enjoying something rich and elegant. Serve this dish with a glass of one of the wines suggested below and nobody feels deprived.

Another bonus is that soup is quick and easy to put together. In fact, this sweet potato soup recipe can incorporate leftover roast sweet potatoes and carrots you may have from the Thanksgiving feast or other fall dinners. Soup recipes, generally, can be tweaked to use up whatever you have on hand. For example, if you have a leek but no onion, no problem. Do you have parsnips but no carrots? No worries! Go ahead and substitute with what’s in your pantry. Normally, I’d add a chopped up stalk of celery to the pot. However, I didn’t have any on hand when whipping up this batch. This sweet potato soup, regardless, is still big on flavor.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon coconut or vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 apple, peeled and diced
1 cup white wine such a Riesling
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Next, add the onion, ginger, and curry powder and sauté for three minutes. Then, put the sweet potatoes, carrots, apple, and white wine into the pot along with one cup of the stock. When the mixture comes to a boil, cover the pan and reduce heat to low. Cook over low heat until the vegetables are soft and can easily be pierced with a knife, about 10-15 minutes (this depends in part on how small the veggies were cut). Blitz the mixture with an immersion blender, or transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree until the mixture is smooth. Add the additional stock either all or in part, until the soup reaches desired consistency.

Makes 4 small portions or in our house, 2 dinner portions plus a small bowl for lunch the next day.

Tip! Add a can of coconut milk to or a splash of cream for a richer version of this soup.

Wine Pairing for Curried Sweet Potato Soup

The old school philosophy says that pairing wine with soup is tricky business because of all the diverse flavors in the concoction. Well, that doesn’t scare me off! With the spices in this Curried Sweet Potato Soup I turn to aromatic white wines. Due to the natural sweetness in the veggies and the apple, my preference is for an off dry wine. That’s a wine with a teensy bit of residual sugar.

Riesling
Often, I’ll use Riesling in this preparation and pour the same to accompany the dish.

Siegerrebe
That’s right – Siegerrebe! Pronounced see-gar-rah-bay, this cross of the Madeleine Angevine grape and the Gewurztraminer grape grows well in the Puget Sound AVA. Wonderful bottlings are produced by Lozpez Island Vineyards and Bainbridge Vineyards.

Gewurtztraminer
The curry and ginger spice in the soup can be complemented by a nice spicy Gewurtztraminer.

Viognier
A rich and aromatic Viognier would not only complement the spices in this soup, but the lush texture as well.