Popcorn And Red Wine Go Together Like… Uhm…

Popcorn has always been delicious. It has never needed much dressing up, a little salt, a little butter and bada bing – even the pickiest eaters are happy. But with foodies constantly searching for new ways to enjoy old standards and the Olivia Pope Effect, the demand for fancy-schmancy popcorn recipes and effective popcorn and wine pairings has risen to an all time high, especially pairings of pop corn and red wine. They go together like… uhm… well, actually they don’t go together.

The Olivia Pope Effect

Prior to Shonda Rhimes, the creator of ABC’s Scandal deciding that drinking wine along with popcorn was a thing, it really wasn’t. I mean, of course, who knows what people eat and drink behind closed doors, but generally popcorn with wine was served as an ironic snack at posh parties or not at all. And even ironically, popcorn was best served with certain sparkly white wines. But like I said, Mrs. Rhimes decided to make it a thing… and now it is. So we will no longer quibble over the legitimacy of the pairing and discuss best case scenarios.

How do you pop popcorn?

The optimal snack pairing would be truffled popcorn with Parmigiano Reggiano with a creamy, buttery Chardonnay. Second would be butter, salt and peppered popcorn with a Chardonnay and last would be a hearty red wine coupled with a savory-seasoned popcorn. Shall we take a closer look at these recommendation?

truffle popcorn

Oh, going forward with recipes… it’s a given that all ingredients should be organic, right?


For this elegant and healthy snack suitable for a night alone, a girlfriends get-together or a romantic eving a deaux, you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup of white (has a better taste, texture and size compared to yellow) popcorn kernels
  • 1/2 cup of refined (for its high smoke point and lack of coconut taste) oil
  • 2 tablespoons of quality Truffle oil
  • 1 teaspoon of Sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cracked pepper
  • 1 ounce of finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter

Directions: Simply pop your kernels in the coconut oil.  Divide into elegant serving bowls, lightly drizzle truffle oil and butter over the popped corn, season with salt and pepper to taste, and then sprinkle liberally with cheese.

Wine: My sommelier-pal suggested I pair my truffle popcorn with a creamy, buttery Chardonnay like a RombauerCakebread Cellars or Pearmund.  Or for those interested in a non-alcoholic beverage try a chilled glass of Pellegrino, or a lemon-infused sparkling mineral water like Perrier to compliment  your elegant snack.

Sparkling White

For a down home state fair- inspired treat, the sweet and salty flavors of kettle corn is always a winner. For this recipe you will need:

  • 1/4 cup unrefined (lends a yummy coconut flavor to your popped corn) coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup white popcorn kernels
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions: In a large pot with a lid, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels. When the coconut oil sizzles, sprinkle the sugar over the popcorn kernels. Cover and stir or shake the pan until the popping slows down. The popcorn should be done popping in about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the kettle corn into a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and toss. Enjoy!

Wine: Generally dry sparkling white wines with notes of fruit and nuttiness would compliment the sweetness and saltiness of kettle corn, like certain types of Champagne and blanc de blancs.


In all honesty, if Olivia Pope wants to do red wine and popcorn effectively, she will need to spice up the popcorn in a way that soundly stands up to the robust nature of her fictional Grand Vin du Bellay Chateauneuf Du Pape 1994.

Maria of the Wine Uncorked blog says, “Chateauneuf-du-Pape is… a real French wine appellation in the Southern Rhone most famous for its red wines made from the blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. Although this AOC has produced some outstanding wines by no means they can fit the profile. Not to mention that the 1994 vintage was not among the best in the Southern Rhone.

Most probably, real life equivalents of “du Bellay” would be any of the Bordeaux first growths, Cheval Blanc and Ausone from St. Emilion, Petrus from Pomerol. However, 1994 was not a noteworthy year in Bordeaux with wines generally being austere and underripe. Olivia would have picked vintages 1982, 1996 (for the Left Bank) and 1997.”

So working backward, we would need a savory popcorn recipe to match up with a French Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre blend, which typically has notes of rich, warm crushed red fruits, along with subtle hints of roasted herbs, black olive and savory notes . The flavors of Jamaican curry come to mind. For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1/4 cup unrefined  coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup white popcorn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Jamaican curry
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Directions: In a large pot with a lid, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels. Cover and stir or shake the pan until the popping slows down. The popcorn should be done popping in about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the kettle corn into a large bowl. Equally sprinkle the rest of the spices over the popcorn, toss well and then drizzle unsalted butter over the bowl.  Enjoy with your glass of red wine!

Wine: A full-bodied red like a Cabernet or Syrah.

But wait – what if your not a fan of curry? No problem, add the spices from taco seasoning or how about Greek? There’s also hot sauce and melted cream cheese (yes that’s right)… the choices are endless for coming up with popcorn and red wine pairing that is easy on the palate.

And me? Well, as much as I love popcorn and wine, I don’t care for them together. When I have popcorn – and I opt to have corn simply popped in unrefined coconut oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, I prefer good ol’ fashion water. Water is, well… wet and it allows me to really experience the taste of the fresh butter, the sea salt… the corn, all the reasons I enjoy eating popcorn.

But Scandal has inspired my inner foodie. My favorite way to watch Scandal is with a gourmet  hamburger and a feisty, dark red wine – but more on that in another blog.



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