Nothing evokes Spanish dreams more than an evening of good wine, glowy candles, great company and an array of colorful tapas. Inspired by a casual evening at La Abaceria in Ferran Adrià’s Hacienda Benazuza in Seville, our Spanish Wine Tasting and Tapas evening is great for a get together with multiple families or a fun evening with your own.
Tapas (singular, “tapa”), the small plate tradition from Spain, were originally small snacks served as “lids” top of wine glasses to keep flies away! These compact bites are designed to inspire conversation, as opposed to just accompanying it, and are also a fun way to gently introduce new and interesting foods to kids.
SET THE MOOD
We’re all about subtle suggestions of a destination and not throwing an all out theme party. Since tapas is all about the food, keep it simple – just like a real tapas restaurant – and decorate with unscented soy votives or LED candles in colorful glass jars, to create a warm, festive twinkle amongst the wine bottles and glasses. We like to use a few deep red glassybabies or go all out with lots of inexpensive red or jewel colored votive holders from cudge.net. If you’re having guests over, try some of these too:
- Print out flags to wrap around cocktail sticks to identify each dish. Print out the Spanish on one side and the English on the other, so the kids (and adults!) can learn a little while they dine.
- Have the kids help you write the menu on a blackboard and prop it up on the counter or table where you are serving the tapas.
- Print out lists of the wines you are serving, including where you bought them so guests can pick up a bottle of their favorites.
- Print out maps of Spanish wine regions so you can see where each wine is from.
We like the Flamenco Chill Sessions album for a hip, modern take on the flamenco sound. In the same genre try Chill n’Flamenco. On the more traditional side, check out Barcelona Nights: The Best of Ottmar Liebert, !Volare! by the Gipsy Kings, or try the Spain Flamenco Fusion playlist for a mix of old and new Spanish grooves.
Send your guests of all ages home with a few Regina Umbrella Candies from Portugal (pictured above), or a handful of Spanish candies wrapped in cellophane and red and green ribbon. Use more to decorate some of the wine glasses you set out.
Spanish wine is a treasure trove of affordable luxury, and it’s worth the time to seek out some inexpensive gems that will become regulars at your dinner table! We suggest you try at least one wine from each category if you have company, or just compare a few reds (vinos tintos) side by side if it’s only you and your immediate family. Spanish wines are a little harder to come by than French or Italians, but you can find all of these wines online or seek out similar ones locally.
Authenticity note: Wine accompanying tapas is traditionally served in stemless glasses, but we prefer to serve our wine in thin-rimmed stemmed glasses for tasting purposes! Learn more about Spanish wines here and about Spanish grape varieties here.
- La Gitana Manzanilla – Hidalgo ($14.99) – a classic, and a wonderful aperitif
- Alvear Pedro Ximinez 1927 ($22.99/half bottle)
- Freixenet Sparkling Cordon Negro Brut ($11.79)
- 2001 Gran Reserva – Castell Sant Antoni ($24.99)
- 2007 Raventos i Blanc, L’Hereu de Nit Rosado Brut Cava ($21.99) – a delicious rose Cava.
- Agusti Torellò Kripta 2003 ($82) – on a par with great champagne, only 20% of production is exported from Spain
- Adego O Casal Novo Godello 2007 ($19.99) – a Godello
- Jose Pariente Verdejo 2008 ($19.99) – a Verdejo from the Rueda region. “Crisp acidity,edgy and refreshing”.
- Pazo de Señorans Albarino 2006 ($19.99) – an Albarino from the Rias Baixas region.
- Ochoa Rosado 2008 ($12.99) – dry rose from the cooler Navarra climate.
- Bodegas Fernandez Rivera Dehesa La Granja 2003 ($19.99) – a Tempranillo
- Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha 2007 ($11.99) – a Garnacha (Spanish synonym for Grenache)
- Camp Viejo Reserva Rioja 2005 ($13.29) – from the Rioja region. Rioja is typically blend of two or more varietals.
- Tomas Cusine Cusine El Vilosell 2006 ($18.99) – from the rocky Priorat region.
- Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero 2006 ($24.99) – from the Ribera del Duero region (WS92 points).
- Bodegas LAN Reserva Rioja 2004 ($15.99) – from the Rioja region (WS90 points)
For the kids/non-drinkers
Sip on a granizado de limón or try this Mock Sangria recipe for the kids or non-drinking adults (courtesy CIAkids):
Combine equal parts orange juice, cranberry juice, and sparkling cider together. Slice a few oranges, limes, and lemons into 1/4 segments and add to the juice mixture, along with some maraschino cherries. Prepare this mixture one to two hours prior to the party to let the flavors mix well. Serve in cups with slices of orange and maraschino cherries.
Tapas is all about the food and the company, so collect up your favorite small dishes and platters and serve the tapas on gloriously mismatched china, or go authentic and serve food in clay cazuelas from The Spanish Table or La Tienda. Serve all foods on toothpicks or bamboo picks, or cut into small squares, and provide lots of small plates, cocktail napkins, forks and wineglasses.
Cold tapas can be set out before guests arrive and hot tapas can be prepared ahead then warmed in the oven in waves as needed . Note: Many tapas are already kid friendly, like meatballs and croquetas, but for the sake of little mouths you may want to dial down the heat on spicy dishes.
Tapas Frias (Cold Tapas)
- Spanish cheese plate with Manchego, Idiazabal, Bleu de Basque, Mahon, Vall de Cati or Agour Espellette (more Spanish cheese ideas). Serve on a platter with honey and almonds.
- Jamon Serrano
- Marinated olives
- Spiced almonds / Marcona Almonds
Tapas Calientes (Hot Tapas)
- Patatas Bravas (spicy potatoes – pair with Rioja or Verdejo)
- Roasted asparagus wrapped in Jamon Serrano (pair with Tempranillo)
- Gambas Al Ajillo (garlic prawns – pair with Verdejo)
- Pan con Tomate (tomato bread – pair with Cava)
- Dates stuffed w/pancetta and blue cheese (pair with Priorat)
- Tortilla Española (Spanish omelet – pair with a white Rioja)
- Chorizo Banderillas (Chorizo skewers – pair with Garnacha)
- Chorizo filled dates wrapped in bacon (pair with Garnacha)
- Coliflor con Pimentón (Cauliflower with smoked paprika – pairs well with a full red)
- Crostini w/tapenade and goat cheese (pair with Tempranillo)
- Croquetas de pollo / Croquetas de Jamon (pair with Tempranillo)
- Calamari Fritos (pairs well with a Rosado)
- Albondigas (Spanish meatballs – pair with Fino/Manzanilla)
- Empanaditas (make ahead, with kids help – pair with Albarino)
Desserts that can be made the day before are a great choice for a tapas dinner, as you will have a lot going on in the kitchen on the day itself. Serve desserts in tiny portions to continue the small bites theme, and encourage guests to try each one!
Our current favorites are Dulce de Leche brownies, or the more traditional Tarta de Manzana. If you still have free hands to cook at the end of dinner, try these fabulous and easy El Bulli fruit-meringue kebabs by Ferran Adria himself!
THE REAL DEAL
Stay at the beautiful and historic Hacienda Benazuza in Seville, a city renowned for its tapas. Owned by the one of the world’s most esteemed chefs, Ferran Adria (of El Bulli fame), this five star hotel is very family friendly, and they also offer cots, babysitting and specially prepared food for picky eaters. Insider tip: You can also avoid the year plus waiting list for El Bulli by staying here and sampling some of the retired El Bulli dishes in the restaurant La Alqueria, which itself has two Michelin stars.
–Fiona VanAlstyne is a Hip Travel Mama contributor and Luxe Food&Wine editor.
If you are passionate about food like us, stop by Wanderlust and Lipstick each week for WanderFood Wednesday, where you will find amazing pictures and food that will inspire you to travel the world and bring the world’s cuisine a bit closer in your own kitchen!