"Reserva." It sounds classy, but is it? In the case of Herederos Del Marques De Riscal 2006 Rioja Reserva, it is indeed. Reserva traditionally means that the best grapes were held back for wine aged in oak barrels. It comes from a time when oak was expensive, and was only worth it for the best wine. Now, Reserva still means that in Spain, Italy and Washington state, but everywhere else is just trying to make themselves feel classy.
And I get that. After all, I was more willing to splurge on a bottle of Reserva (not to mention it has gold casing and gold is my favorite color). Other tricks are often employed to class it up. A fancy name, a confusing label, the word "chateau" (which could be an outhouse as long as wine is made there). The more intimidating a wine, the more we'll spend on it. And the less likely we'll be to come out and say so when we don't like it. This is the same reason why my being a cheap, friendly date gets me pretty much nowhere.
But this wine really does kick ass. This is earthy, almost filthy, sexy and tart and complex. It's cherry and cocoa mud wrestling raspberry and cola and leaves. And I served it up with a perfect, utterly classy pairing...
I get that that wasn't a big reveal because of the title. I just want you to know that I get that. Yeah, it's popcorn! Popcorn is great with wine. Whether it's the dirty, sexy aroma of this Rioja Reserva, a jammy Cote du Rhone or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, popcorn is the cheese of the carb world: it makes wines taste awesome by bringing out their best.
Salt enhances flavors. And while that can include alcohol and the texture of the tannins, the oil and the crunch of the popcorn will negate that. In fact, the same chemical used to make butter flavor is the byproduct of malolactic fermentation, a chemical process often used in winemaking. So to amp up the flavor of your fancy wine, treat yourself special. Have it with popcorn.