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Beer vs. Wine: Movie Theatre Butter Popcorn?

Written by The Beer Wench. Posted in Featured Beer Pairings, LATEST, WENCH UNCENSORED

Tagged: , , , , ,

Screen shot 2011-05-31 at 5.34.05 PM

Published on May 31, 2011 with 1 Comment

I never, and I mean never, go to the actual movie theater. So when I finally get the opportunity, I like to go big.

Now, we are all adults here. And (hopefully) some of us can admit that some things are just a little bit more fun when booze is involved, especially if you are reading my blog (come on now).

In some places, beer (and possibly wine) is available for purchase at the movie theater. This is not the case in my town. So it is common practice to smuggle in our own refreshments. And don’t pretend you are all innocent, whether it be candy, soda or booze… I can guarantee that 90% of movie goers have, at one point or another, brought outside food or beverage into a theater.

Oddly enough, my movie theater beverage of choice was wine. One bottle of chilled Marlborough, NZ Sauvignon Blanc and a half a bottle of 2006 Chianti Reserva that had been open 12 hours earlier, and resealed. And to not insult the fine beverages with improper glassware, I brought along two handy dandy GO VINO cups.

Although not a fan of corn and corn products AT ALL, I am oddly obsessed with popcorn. But who are we kidding ourselves, it isn’t about the actual corn. Popcorn is just a vessel for eating butter. Am I right, or am I right? And nothing quite beats the uber greasy, super salty crunch of movie theater popcorn lathered up with extra butter. Since going to the movies is such a rare occasion, I splurged on the largest tub possible.

We got to our seats and I poured my friend and myself a glass of the crisp, highly acidic Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was crisp, clean, and boasted intense notes of grapefruit and grass. As the movie went on, we chowed down hardcore on popcorn, stopping every few minutes to wash it down with some wine. About halfway through the film, the bottle of white was kicked and I poured us both the red. More popcorn, more wine, lots of laughing in between.

While leaving the theater, my friend turned to me and said, “Hey, wait! I didn’t get to try any of the red wine.” And I burst out into hysterical laughter. “Yes you did,” I said. “I poured it for you twice.”

“You did?”

“Yes. Scouts honor.”

In the dark of the theater, it was virtually impossible to see what one was drinking. However, the two styles of wine sit on opposite sides of the spectrum: New World white wine fermented in stainless steel tanks boasting intense citrus flavors VS. Old World red wine fermented in oak boasting rich, earthy dark fruit flavors.

The kicker? My friend has worked in the beverage industry for over 13 years. He has a discerning palate, but for some reason he couldn’t taste the difference between white and red wine.

The culprit? BUTTER.

You see kids, foods that are high in lipids coat the tongue with a layer of fat and oils, making it difficult to taste. This phenomenon is also responsible for palate saturation. And unfortunately, the fructose in wine is not a good palate cleanser. In fact, it just adds a layer of sugar on the lipids, further coating the tongue and effecting taste.

Obviously, this is an argument for beer. In regard to food pairings, beer possesses a very key component, which wine almost completely lacks: CARBONATION. Richer, more flavorful foods such as cheese, butter and meats, leave a layer of lipids on the tongue. The carbonation in beer helps to break apart the lipids, cleansing the palate, and preparing the palate for the next bite or next sip of beer.

This brings us to the conclusion that beer would have been a more ideal pairing for the rich, salty butter popcorn. And what style? Ah, great question! In this situation, I would opt for an IPA (most likely a West Coast IPA) with bright citrus, high-alpha hops. You see, hops love salt. I’ve noticed that foods higher in salt (esp soy sauce and miso based dishes) enhance the citrus and pine flavors in hops. IPAs make a perfect match because they pack a lot of flavor, which won’t be muted by the salt and fat in the popcorn. The salt brings out the hops, while the carbonation in the beer helps to break up the lipids, cleansing the palate. Bada bing, Bada boom.

The exception to the wine rule is, of course, sparkling wine. But busting open a bottle of bubbly in the movie theater is a little more noticeable than popping the top off a beer bottle… sooooo, the conclusion is: beer = the ideal movie theater butter popcorn beverage pairing.


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There are currently 1 Comment on Beer vs. Wine: Movie Theatre Butter Popcorn?. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. I prefer distilled spirits in movie theaters. You can then purchase a soda, dump a little ice, and make yourself a large highball.

  2. [...] Drink With The Wench: Beer vs. Wine: Movie Theatre Butter Popcorn? [...]

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  4. [...] out The Beer Wench’s recent post about why beers work well with fatty or creamy [...]

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