Wine and Popcorn Pairings: Take Movie Snacking to the Next Level!

Nobody could any longer doubt that popcorn’s renaissance moment is more than just a fad or flash in the pan. Everyone’s favourite movie snack has moved on from the dull, dry kernels of yesteryear, and has fully entered the arena of luxurious light snacks in spectacular fashion. Indeed, all over the world, artisanal popcorn makers are taking these nibbles to new heights; using high quality corn, a vast array of flavours, spices, and new taste combinations which have got our mouths watering in anticipation for whatever’s coming next.

Whether you enjoy the simple taste of quality salted popcorn, or opt for something a little more decadent and exotic, you’ll be pleased to hear that this snack is pretty much perfect for wine pairing. Here at Wine Box Republic, we’re always on the lookout for food and wine pairings made in heaven, and we’ve had a huge amount of fun coming up with some popcorn matches which are really going to hit the spot.

In fact – unlike with many snack foods – popcorn is fairly simple to match with wine. The corn itself doesn’t pack a particularly strong punch of flavour, as that all comes from whatever condiments have been scattered all over those puffy kernels of deliciousness. As such, you only have to pair your wine with a single, direct flavour… making the pairings which work really impress on the palate. Ready to find out more? Gather your mates and fellow citizens of our republic, pick out your favourite movie, and get your wine glasses and sharing bowls ready for a taste sensation that’ll take you to another level!

Standard salted popcorn

Let’s kick things off with the original, the classic, and – some would say – the best: simple, salted popcorn. This is the popcorn you remember from your childhood; incredibly moreish, utterly delicious, and a snack you simply cannot get enough of.

Like many salty snack foods, salted popcorn works brilliantly with Champagne (seriously, pair a glass of Champagne with a dinner of fried chicken and french fries, and tell me that isn’t absolutely heavenly!). The sharp, biting acidity and biscuit-y flavours of Champagne cut through the salt, turning the wine into a decadent thirst-quencher that is more than a little satisfying. What’s more, few things are cooler than matching this most luxurious of sparkling wines with something as simple and childlike as a big bowl of popcorn… you’ll feel like a rock star as you sip away, and you’ll take pleasure in every single mouthful.

Toffee popcorn

For those with a sweet tooth, it’s always been all about the toffee popcorn. Sugary, sticky kernels glazed with a toffee coating… it really doesn’t get much better than that, especially when paired with a romantic movie and shared with someone special!

Sweet snacks can be tough to pair with wine, and bringing them together with a traditional sweet wine like Sauternes or Tokaji can be quite overwhelming, and a little sickly (which is why such wines are typically paired with contrasting savoury foods, like strong blue cheeses). You want something which has a bit of a sugary hit, which also has some real depth and dryness to it, too. We’d recommend pairing toffee popcorn with a good quality Moscato, which boasts those sweet fruit flavours and balances them with a fresh acidity, or something unctuous and involving, like a dry Amontillado Sherry. Heaven!

Salted caramel popcorn

It’s almost strange to think that salted caramel is such a relative newcomer to the flavour spectrum – it’s established itself as such a winning combination, it feels almost like it’s always been there. When it comes to popcorn, salted caramel is the perfect balancing act between the traditional salt or sugar choice we had at the movies when we were kids, and it works like an absolute dream.

This pairing is going to work brilliantly with traditional European sparkling wines like Prosecco and Cava. Less acidic than Champagne, and with a fruitier edge to boot, these fizzy wonders are going to be a fantastic pairing for anything featuring salted caramel flavours. If you’re looking for a table wine to pair with this popcorn, we’d opt for a Chenin Blanc – it has that same balance and freshness that’s really going to hit the high notes.

Buttered popcorn

At the more decadent end of the spectrum we find buttered popcorn – a classic American flavour which is beloved around the world. For this type of popcorn, you’re going to want to select a wine which is similarly luxurious, yet which has a body and flavour profile capable of standing up to what is actually a fairly strong taste on the palate.

As with anything buttery and luxurious, a fuller-bodied white wine like a classic Chardonnay or Viognier is never going to be a bad option. However, we’d also like to throw Grenache into the ring – it’s got a delicious juiciness to it and rounded flavour that never fails to work wonders with savoury, buttery flavours.

Cheese popcorn

Recent years have seen a massive rise in the popularity of luxury popcorns, featuring a wide range of cheese flavours from all over the world. From sharp and rich Cheddar, to classic Mediterranean flavours like Parmesan, these popcorns have become a huge hit with those who just can’t get enough cheese when it comes to their favourite snacks.

As everyone knows, pairing wine with cheese is something we can all agree on as being a great idea. For cheesy popcorns, you’re going to want to go for a wine with a real punch of flavour and body – these are full-flavoured snacks that need a wine which can stand up to them! Choose a Cabernet Sauvignon or boisterous Aussie Shiraz, and you’ll be in cheese and wine matching paradise.

Eastern spice popcorn

One of the great things about this latest flush or artisan popcorns has been the willingness to experiment with flavours shown by their creators. From multi-layered Thai spices, to Sichuan chillies, Vietnamese condiments, Indian masalas and more besides, spice-lovers can find pretty much whatever flavours they want for their popcorn nowadays.

When it comes to pairing wine with spicy food, balance is key. You’ll want a wine which has freshness and acidity, yet also has the residual sugars needed to work with the various layers of flavours. We’d recommend a slightly off-dry Riesling or Gewurztraminer, or a Pinot Noir if you’re looking for something a little different.

So, there you have it: our top wine pairings for various flavours of popcorn! There’s never been a better time for exploring new flavours when it comes to your favourite snack foods – use our advice as a springboard for your own discoveries, and see what you uncover along the way.

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