The Essence of Wine: Buttered Popcorn

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

Unmistakably redolent of American childhood, nothing quite compares to the scent of freshly popped corn drenched in movie theater butter. Adored or reviled, and sometimes both at once, for its rich, guilty pleasure, buttered popcorn seems to trip the most primal triggers for indulgence and comfort. The creamy, salty, toasty scent entices no less richly in the aromas of wine than it does in a cinema lobby. This unique aroma most often results from the complex chemistry between the toasted oak of a barrel and the remarkable bacteria that convert tart, green-apple malic acid into the smooth, buttercream of lactic acid. Proportionally layered on top of leaner flavors and aromas, notes of buttered popcorn add an almost irresistible savoriness, most often to Chardonnay, where the tension between salinity, acidity, and fruit in just the right proportion can yield results nothing short of transcendent.

Grgich Hills Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, USA
Parallel Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California, USA
Yering Station Reserve Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Australia
Chateau de Maltroye “La Dent de Chien” Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, Burgundy, France
Vins d’Orrance “Cuvee Anais” Chardonnay, Western Cape, South Africa
Veramonte “Reserva” Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley, Chile
Isole e Olena “Collezione de Marchi” Chardonnay, Tuscany, Italy
Bodega Monteviejo “Lindaflor” Chardonnay, Tunuyan, Argentina
Ata Rangi “Petrie” Chardonnay, Martinborough, New Zealand

This is part of an ongoing series of original images and prose called The Essence of Wine