Want to know how to add the perfect Spanish flavour to your homecooked food? Katie Georgeson, Brand Manager at kitchen appliance manufacturers Stoves, has these tips for hosting a traditional wine and tapas night — with a modern twist.
Tapas is an excellent option for people who want to create restaurant-style foods at home. Many elements of a wine and tapas evening can be tailored to suit your hosting style, from fine dining experiences to mostly drinks with a few homecooked nibbles. By having an organised kitchen and pairing up your drinks and tapas your evening is sure to be one to impress.
Set the tone for your evening by choosing the right music and décor to suit the mood you want to create — you don’t necessarily have to take the theme to the extreme by going all-out Spanish. Tapas looks beautiful arranged on platters or served up in little dishes, so you might find that a simple tablescape with minimal ornamentation looks best. All the focus is on the homecooked food you have prepared, and by having less on your table, it’s easier for your guests to swap dishes and compare wines.
Tapas consists of small plates, but beyond that it is open to interpretation. Individual tapa can be bar snacks, appetisers, platters, paella, canapes, or an after-dinner nibble, and they range from hot and saucy patatas bravas to cold Spanish cheeses and meats. The best parties have as much variety in their tapas as possible, so it’s best to aim for a mix of hot and cold plates of varying consistencies. The beauty of tapas is that you get to experience many different tastes and textures in one night — including dessert — so it’s the perfect excuse to show off as many of your cooking skills as possible.
How often will you serve? Some tapas nights spread out their three to five homecooked dishes over the course of the evening by serving at half-hour intervals, like a tasting menu, so that guests have time to savour each plate. Other tapas evenings serve everything at once as a sort of buffet, to allow guests to share and try all the dishes at the same time. Both approaches require precision in preparation and cooking to make sure than everything comes out when it’s supposed to, so plot out temperatures and oven space accordingly.
Tapas comes from the Spanish tradition to have a small snack with wine. To serve the authentic way, aim for one drink per tapa. As a rule of thumb, hosts should aim to match the region of their ingredients to the region of the wine to make the most of the naturally occurring complementary flavours.
Sherry is traditionally served as it goes excellently with cheese, olives, and cured meats, all of which have a heavy salt content. Cava is an even more indulgent treat for your guests, and it works well with fried fish and fluffy Spanish tortilla.
Of course, rioja is the go-to red wine for tapas parties, but it’s also worth having a few bottles of rosado (Spanish rosé), as it’s the perfect complement to homecooked food with lots of tomatoes and peppers. Similarly, while sangria is typically made from red wine — after all, the name comes from ‘sangre’, the Spanish word for blood — modern Spaniards are putting their own twist on it by making rosé varieties with peach and mint. Why not cook up a syrup to add to your sangria to really enhance the flavour?
Wine and tapas nights are a tried-and-tested theme for an evening soiree, but don’t be afraid to get creative. Tasteful decorating, calculated cooking, and serving drinks with a modern twist are all fresher ways to host a successful dinner party, and the tips in this guide can help you begin to plan your night.