Tapas: Small Plates--Big Flavors
Tapas are Spanish appetizers that typically accompany drinks. Presented on individual small plates, tapas can include shrimp fried in garlic and olive oil, a petite potato omelet, a few nibbles of chorizo sausage, a cod fritter or two, some olives, thinly sliced serrano ham, and roasted almonds.
Wine to Pair with Tapas
It's fun to entertain with tapas. So why not break open a bottle of bubbly? Spanish cava--the sparkling wine of the Penedes region of Spain--is a refreshing sip that pairs really well with salty and fried tapas. A chilled dry sherry can also be excellent with tapas. Watch out, though! The alcohol in sherry can sneak up on you in a hurry! You might also try a fruity sangria served over ice.
These little bites make terrific bar food, and that's just where the tapas tradition emerged. For no extra charge, bar owners would place small plates of food on top of the drinks they delivered to thirsty patrons.
A good tapas party is all about leisurely snacking and lots of conversation:
- Serve tapas on little plates--saucers will do nicely.
- Use large, flat-bottomed Asian-style soup spoons to set out individual portions of seafood or other tidbits swimming in sauce
- Bring out just a couple of choices at a time so your guests have a chance to experience the flavors
- Many tapas can be prepared ahead of time, but make the fried dishes on the spot so you can enjoy them at their peak of crispy goodness. Break out the electric skillet or your deep fryer and turn the cooking into an event
- Set out a big bowl of red and yellow bell peppers dotted with fresh flowers and greenery for an inexpensive but dramatic centerpiece using the colors of the Spanish flag
Paella: It's All in the Pan
Paella is one of the world's great one-pot meals, and makes a spectacular party dish. Your menu can be as simple as a salad (featuring oranges and Spanish onions), paella served in the pan, and something sweet to savor at the end.
Wine Pairings with Paella
There's usually a lot of seafood in paella. Mussels, shrimp, clams, and lobster are terrific with a crisp cold Albariño from the cool-climate Spanish region of Rias Baixis. Of course, red wine also works perfectly well with paella, particularly with meatier versions. Try a reserva Rioja, a classic Spanish wine made primarily from Tempranillo grapes. If it's a hot day, and you want to split the difference between red and white, pop open a bottle of superb Spanish rosé wine.