When customers order a glass of wine at a bar or restaurant in Spain, most often the wine is accompanied by a complimentary tapa or pinxto, or small plate. Roaming from bar to bar with a group of friends—enjoying a drink and snack at each—is a distinctly Spanish pleasure. By the end of the night, all are sated with wines and snacks.
For an easy night of summer entertaining without traveling to Spain, pick up a few bottles of Spanish wine and mix up some simple Iberian treats with a couple of homemade dishes.
• Start your evening off with a sparkling Cava, and move on to whites like Albariño from Rías Baixas or Verdejo from Rueda, finishing with a lusty red like Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero.
• Serve one plate at a time paired with a specific wine. This really keeps the Spanish spirit of tapas alive. Also, everyone drinks the same wine simultaneously, sparking conversation.
• Keep small bowls of Marcona almonds and zesty olives on hand. They’ll make even your hungriest guests happy between courses or while waiting for latecomers to arrive.
• High-end bars in Spain serve preserved products like bonito del norte (tuna from the Cantabrian Sea), cockles in brine, Basque peppers and white asparagus from Navarra directly from the jar (or can) to prove their provenance. Don’t be afraid to do the same.
• Jamón Serrano (Serrano ham) and lomo embuchado (pork loin) are wonderful as their own course or alongside cheeses such as Zamorano, Idiazábal and torta Cañarejal, a runny sheep milk cheese that’s more fun than fondue.
• For an easy pinxto, fry up slices of fresh chorizo and serve on toothpicks.
If there is no Spanish specialty store in your area, Despaña Brand Foods can ship anywhere in the U.S. (despanabrandfoods.com).
• Seek out recipes from the top authorities on Spanish cuisine: Penelope Casas, Janet Mendel, Anya von Bremzen and renowned chef José Andrés.
• End your night on a sweet note. Pair Cabrales blue cheese with Sherry or vino dulce from Málaga.