The saltiness and crunchy texture of popcorn makes a perfect snack with bright, crisp white wine, so it was inevitable that eventually someone would think of combining the two.
Populence, a gourmet popcorn company located in Manhattan’s East Village, has partnered with Kim Crawford Wines of New Zealand to produce wine-flavored popcorn. It’s called Sauvignon Blanc Kettle, and the recipe calls for Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc---one of the best examples of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on the market. Like all the rest of Populence’s creations, Sauvignon Blanc Kettle uses organic, GMO-free popcorn kernels. It’s available in sampler sizes, one-pound tins for $35, or two pounds for $48 (the average national retail price for the 2012 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is $15).
Does it taste like Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc? Sort of. Remember, though, that the wine is present in the popcorn only as a flavoring---you’re not going to get a buzz from this stuff. It does have vivid citrus flavors, though, along with a pleasant sweetness not found in the wine. Paired with a glass of the real thing, that sweetness forms a perfect counterpoint with the wine’s mouthwatering acidity.
If the idea of ordering popcorn from the Big Apple doesn’t resonate with you, you can try to duplicate the recipe at home. Place several tablespoons of vegetable oil in a small, covered pot and heat for one to two minutes, then add ¼ cup of popcorn kernels. Once the kernels start to pop, add a tablespoon of Kim Crawford, three tablespoons of granulated sugar (the eventual source of that sweetness) and two teaspoons of fresh lemon zest, swirling frequently. When the popping stops, place on parchment paper to cool, season with salt to taste, pour yourself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and you’re ready to go.
Maggie Paulus, the popcorn guru behind Populence, stresses the importance of frequent swirling: It coats the kernels evenly and prevents the sugar from burning. Your version may not taste quite as good as hers, but at least you won’t be sitting around waiting for UPS.
Mark Spivak is the author of iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, published by Lyons Press (Globe Pequot); for more information, go to amazon.com