Pairings | Tapas
Lucy Bridgers selflessly devotes herself to finding the perfect pairing for tapas on a tapas crawl through some of London's leading tapas bars
The closest result so far on one of our food and wine matching polls ended with rosado (Spanish rosé) and fino sherry neck and neck as the best match for tapas with 30% of the vote, closely followed by Rioja on 24% which had topped the poll for a good few days. Spain's sparkling wine, Cava, came fourth with 16% of the vote.
It shouldn't come as a massive surprise that Spain can provide any style of wine you might fancy to drink with tapas.
As a massive sherry fan I confess that I find it hard to envisage any other drink with tapas but when you’re invited to experience an off-the-wall pairing you go - or at least I do.
Sometimes you get in a rut with a particular food and wine combination - maybe on a ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it? basis. Such is the case for me with tapas which I tend to recommend pairing with something Spanish - usually manzanilla sherry or - depending on the amount of seafood - a crisp Rueda, dry Spanish rosado or a young Rioja or similar Spanish red.
Eating Thai tapas in a city like Paris represents everything I dislike about eating out - a mish-mash of cooking styles, food you can eat anywhere - and yet I loved it. (Apparently the chef has moved on. See my update below from a subsequent visit in March 2015)
I was reminded just how enjoyable this combination is the other day when I dropped by London’s latest tapas bar Barrafina and enjoyed a pre-dinner pick-up of a glass of Hidalgo with some al-i-oli and toast. The sharp tangy sherry was the perfect foil for the crisp toast and silky, garlic-flavoured mayo that accompanied it.
Despite its almost unpronounceable name Txakoli (pronounced chackoly) is the new kid on the block for anyone who likes a crisp dry white wine.
I’ve been a huge fan of Brindisa, the Spanish food importer who was probably more responsible than anyone for putting chorizo on our culinary map. They have a great shop in Borough Market and a number of convivial tapas bars so it seemed good news when they announced they were opening Tramontana, a restaurant based on 'speciality dishes from the Spanish Mediterranean'.
This month’s issue of Observer Food Monthly hasa special on TV dinners featuring celebrities talking about their favourite snacks. Very few beverages are mentioned so I thought I’d suggest a few pairings ;-)
As the fourth restaurant in the Salt Yard Group which specialises in Spanish and italian food Ember Yard has a fine pedigree but does it live up to its stablemates?
Of all the things I eat at Jose Pizarro's lovely tapas bar José, the croquetas are my favourite. Here's a recipe for the spinach ones from his brilliant book Basque.
What do you drink with tapas? My immediate go-to is sherry but having indulged that whim the other day in the form of a glass of tangy manzanilla amontillada from Lustau’s almacenista collection I unusually followed it up with a glass of white.
A great recipe for a simple tapa from José Pizarro's lovely book Spanish Flavours. José, as you may know if you're based in the UK, has a cracking tapas bar in Bermondsey called José and a slightly more formal restaurant in the same street called Pizarro.
Manzanilla, as you probably know, is a fino sherry made in the port of Sanlucar de Barrameda rather than in the cities of Jerez or Puerto de Santa Maria which gives it its characteristic salty tang.
None of you, I’m sure, can have failed to notice just how many different bottles of rosé are now available on the average supermarket shelf. From being purely a summer wine there are now rosés for almost every type of food and occasion.
If you want proof of how adventurous a wine retailer Marks & Spencer has become you only have to try this unusual Spanish white made from Pedro Ximenez, which is more usually used to make a sweet syrupy style of sherry.
Those of you who read my Guardian column may have spotted that last week’s was devoted to winemakers who tackle an established grape variety or wine style on their own doorstep