Who needs fancy-dancy appetizers? Your friends or co-workers are coming by so think simple, and have lots more fun by serving them tapas.

That’s the Spanish approach to entertaining and that’s why they came up with tapas. For those of you that need some history, tapas were literally small pieces of toast that people at a bar could put over their glass of wine to keep the flies out. (I really don’t know if that’s historically true, but it sounds nice.)

So all you need are bread and toothpicks; put the knives and forks away. The beauty of tapas is that such amazing flavors yield lots of possibilities for different wine pairings. A Verdejo from Rueda has enough body to match a rich and creamy Spanish cheese like Mahón; a Txakoli with its grassy flavors and Calle Laurel effervescence goes great with salty olives or ham; a Mencia red with its bitter cherry and spice dimensions is made for chorizo; a deep, dense Graciano from Rioja marries well with Spain’s famous piquillo or padrón peppers; and a combo that will make you see stars is an Amontillado Sherry with some dry cheese and almonds.

Here are some key components for tapas: jamón ibérico from acorn fed pigs; jamón serrano the classic dry-cured Spanish ham; chorizo white or red, the classic spicy Spanish sausage; padrón or piquillo peppers, grilled and tossed with olive oil and salt or marinated; manchego, that firm, buttery sheep’s milk cheese or mahón, also buttery but sharp and aromatic; garrotxa, superb goat cheese with a nice zing; Spanish olives, marinated and oh-so-good; or just simple pan con tomate, grilled bread seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic and tomato.

Buen provecho!

Author Vin Marottoli

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