When we were researching our very first wine book, we were looking for a way to explain how different foods affect the taste of a wine. We know that wine accompanied by a salty snack tastes different than it does paired with a spicy entrée or a sweet dessert.
We found that plain popcorn is perfect for flavoring. It becomes a different food when sweetened, spiced, buttered, or salted.
Enter our Saucy Sisters’ Popcorn Game. This is such a terrific way to see how the flavors of food affect one wine varietal. We’ve played this game with some of the biggest wine snobs and have left them in disbelief. Here’s how to play:
Divide plain popcorn into four separate batches and add one of the following ingredients to each batch:
- Cayenne Pepper
- Brown Sugar
Open one bottle of wine – any wine. Cover wine bottle to conceal label from your guests. Take a sip of the wine before you start eating the popcorn and note how the wine tastes. Now sample the butter popcorn. Take another sip of the wine and observe how different the wine tastes. Move on to the other popcorn batches and you’ll experience even more taste changes.
Challenge your group to identify the wine…and see how many different answers you get!
Only you can decide which flavored popcorn is your favorite drinking partner. But here are some general guidelines of how the popcorn flavors affect the taste of the wine.
Butter. Fats and oils in food minimize the astringent effect of a wine’s tannins and soften a wine’s harshness.
Salt. Salty foods accentuate both a wine’s alcohol and tannins.
Cayenne Pepper. Spicy foods diminish the sweetness of a wine and cause it to taste more tart, more tannic, and more alcoholic.
Brown Sugar. Sweetness in food will increase the perception of bitterness and astringency in wine, making it seem less sweet and less fruity.
Enjoy the experience.
Barbara and Beverly