Wine & Food: Pairing Wine With Spanish Tapas

In Spain, they’re usually served as snacks to go with a drink while hanging out with friends or family – before going out to lunch or dinner. These easy, shareable bites are also great for a light summertime meal, so invite your friends over, open a few bottles and have a great tapas and wine party! 

What Are Tapas?

If you asked our definition of tapas, we’d say comforting bite-sized snacks that pack a real punch. A spread of small dishes always looks festive, and there’s something so fun about nibbling and sipping away while catching up with your friends. 

A tapa can be a simple snack such as mixed olives, cured anchovies, salted almonds, wedges of Manchego cheese or charcuterie like chorizo. Some tapas are a bit more involved, such as fried calamares, crispy potatoes or meatballs – but tapas are generally pretty straightforward yet irresistible.

What is Tapas Culture in Spain?

“Tapa” means “cover,” and it’s generally believed that the tradition started with a slice of bread or ham covering the glass to prevent bugs or sand from coming into the glass. Having tapas is very much a part of Spanish culture. It is mainly enjoyed midday before lunch (which, in Spain, is usually served at around 2:30 pm) or early evening before dinner. Tapas can also form a full meal, but usually, the practice involves consuming a few snacks and a drink at one bar before doing the same in the next (this fun bar-hopping is called “tapear”). 

How Do I Throw A Tapas Party?

Gather up your friends for a tapas party! Remember: being together and sharing food and drinks is more important than impressing everyone (and exhausting yourself!) with 15 different dishes. So, keep it simple: stick to making three to five small bites, and add some cured olives or smoked almonds and some charcuterie. 

Enliven your space with candles and string lights, throw some colourful cushions on the chairs, and set the table with cheerful tableware and napkins. Turn up the music, too: some Flamenco guitar or Spanish pop will set the mood. Vamos!

What Wines Do I Serve at A Tapas Party?

One thing is a no-brainer: choose Spanish wines. But, as you could’ve read in our blog post on this fascinating wine country, the variety of Spanish wines is dizzying. Choose a wine that goes well with the variety of tapas you serve. 

Cava, an All-Rounder Wine

Cava, Spain’s sparkling wine made with the same method as Champagne, goes exceptionally well with fried tapas such as calamares, croquetas (croquettes) or fried anchovies. It also matches well with cheeses and charcuterie.

Crisp White Wines

Crisp white wines like Albariño or Godello go well with seafood and lighter, vegetable-based tapas. A fuller-bodied Verdejo can stand up to more intensely-flavoured seafood such as gambas or grilled octopus.

Rosado, Spanish Rosé

A rosado, a Spanish rosé, usually has a bit more body than its French counterparts and is also quite fruit-forward. It goes well with chorizo, patatas (potatoes) with aioli or mushroom-based dishes.

Spanish Red Wines 

If you want to choose red wine, serve a young (“jóven”) Tempranillo that hasn’t spent much time in oak or a fruit-forward Garnacha. These options are great for meat-based tapas, such as meatballs or charcuterie. Make sure to serve your red wine slightly chilled by popping the bottle in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before serving. 

We hope that we’ve inspired you to start organizing your next party. Below you’ll find some recipes, each with a wine recommendation. It’s tapas time! 

Albóndigas (Spanish meatballs)

Juicy meatballs in a slightly spicy tomato sauce, with a nice glass of slightly chilled red wine. What’s not to love? Make these albóndigas part of your tapas spread, but make plenty because they’ll go first! 

Wine Suggestion: Armentía y Madrazo Crianza

Anchovies, Manchego and Red Bell Pepper Pincho

The northern Spanish answer to tapas, pinchos are small snacks you would nibble on while hanging out in a bar with friends. The only difference with a tapa is the “pincho”, the skewer which holds it together. The snack packs a variety of flavours in a single bite, and a chilled Godello nicely balances it out. 

Wine Suggestion: Nelias Godello

Patatas Bravas con Aioli

patatas bravas

Fried potatoes are already pretty irresistible, let alone when doused in a smoked paprika tomato sauce and aioli, a garlicky mayonnaise. A sparkling wine cuts right through the fattiness, leaving your palate refreshed, ready for another bite.

Wine Suggestion: Naveran Brut Nature Cava

Champiñones al Ajillo

champiñones al ajilo, fried mushrooms with garlic

Quick and easy to make, with wonderfully deep, earthy flavours, these garlic mushrooms are everybody’s favourite. Serve them with some crusty bread to mop up the juices once the bowl is finished. Pair with a medium-bodied red, such as a Garnacha. 

Wine Suggestion: Genio Garnacha

Do these recipes inspire you to round up some friends and entertain them with great food and wine? When you become a WineCollective member, you’ll enjoy great discounts in our member store, meaning you can stock up on great wine for your next gathering.