May 27, 2014

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Pair This: Cornerstone Cellars 2011 Chardonnay and Spiced Popcorn

If you’re an avid reader of my website, you’ll know by now that my only food addiction is popcorn.  A popped kernel of corn has the ability to to be the perfect host for any spice or oil that’s added to it; therefore, creating a harmonious symbiotic relationship between food and seasoning.  It’s the ultimate easily prepped snack that always hits the spot and cures all sorts of cravings – sweet, spicy, savory or all combined.

pop chard pouring

Aside from pairing popcorn with sparkling wine (a combo I absolutely love and some excellent pairings can be found here),  I love popcorn with Chardonnay – not a big shocker since many sparkling wines are made using Chardonnay wine grapes.  Personally, however, not any Chardonnay will do – it’s got to be an Oregon Chardonnay.  I’ve been a fan of Oregon’s Chardonnays since my very first sip about eight years ago – when we moved here from Florida.  Back then, before we moved to Oregon, the Florida wine market showcased a very, very limited selection of Oregon wine.  It was slim pickings from just a few of Oregon’s larger producers, and the only two varietals I ever came across were Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir – I don’t recall ever seeing an Oregon Chardonnay.  Boy have times changed in eight short years – my friends in Florida love to ask me about their market and restaurant finds, many of which are from some of the smaller Oregon producers.

As wine growers throughout the state are realizing that our soils and climate are sublime for producing world-class Chardonnays, they are banding together and creating a common vision for the future of Oregon Chardonnay – something I learned about during the first annual Oregon Chardonnay Symposium, where some of the state’s most well-known Chardonnay producers gathered and agreed that Chardonnay should be planted on their best blocks.  So, its not just any Chardonnay that fills my glass when splurging on my favorite snack – it’s Oregon Chardonnay.

pop with chard

When I’m able to create a match between one of my favorite wines Oregon wines and my favorite foods, I am one happy wine (and, uh popcorn) gal.  My blissful duo: Cornerstone Cellars Willamette Valley 2011 Chardonnay with Frontoio EVOO Chorizo Spice Rub Popcorn.

Cornerstone Cellars 2011 Chardonnay is a perfect example of why Oregon is steadfastly becoming world renowned for the Chardonnay varietal.   It’s elegant, yet full of complex characteristics driven by the terroir.  Gorgeous star fruit, honeysuckle, orange blossom and spice on the nose flow on the palate in juicy, silky waves.  The long, refreshing finish has a nice zing of acidity, helping to create an extremely well balanced wine.  Putting a glass of the Cornerstone Chardonnay down is not an easy thing to do.  Just keep the stem of your wine glass nicely placed between forefinger and thumb, and you’ll be good to go. 

Your other hand will be used to retrieve the tasty pieces of popcorn.  Although the spices I used are not available for purchase (they were specially prepared by Executive Chef Matt Greco of the award-winning Restaurant at Wente Vineyards for a live tasting I participated in last fall: Murrieta’s Well: Rich History, The Whip, The Spur, Zarzuela and a Savory Chorizo Spice Rub), any favorite combination of spices or seasonings will do.

pop EVOO pouring

Outstanding Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is key.  My favorite EVOOs are produced right here in Oregon, up in the beautifully lush Dundee Hills at the Oregon Olive Mill – the only olioteca in the state.  Oregon Olive Mill is located at the amazing Red Ridge Farms, which is also home to Durant Vineyards (another producer of super fine Oregon Chardonnay that would be an excellent match with seasoned fresh popcorn, as well).


  • 2 tbsp. Oregon Olive Mill Frantoio EVOO
  • 1/2 cup of unpopped popcorn
  • 2 tbsp Chorizo Spice Rub (or your favorite spice or blend of seasonings)
  • 4 lunch-sized brown paper sacks

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large pot, add popcorn and cover until popping begins to slow.  Remove from heat.  When popping has completed, divide popcorn evenly between the 4 brown paper bags. Drizzle the Frantoio EVOO (or your favorite flavored or non-flavored) over the popcorn and sprinkle about 1/2 tbsp of spice rub or seasoning over popcorn in each sack. Close sack tightly and shake vigorously.  Add seasoning to taste.  Fold down the sides of the sack and serve immediately – I serve the popcorn right in the sack (for the photos, I put the popcorn in little Lotus bowls).

pop oil and glass

Easy and delicious, all the way around.

For more Oregon Olive Mill recipes and ideas, visit my Oregon wine writing friends’ Mary Cressler (Vindulge) and Jade Helm (Tasting Pour) websites:

Learning About Olive Oil at the Oregon Olive Mill (Vindulge)

New Year’s Resolution: Use the Good Stuff (Tasting Pour)

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