Tapas Recipe Ideas and Wine Pairings

If you’re looking for the ultimate social dining experience that is casual, vibrant and diverse – tapas is where it’s at. A beloved part of Spanish cuisine and culture, tapas are small plates of food made for sharing in bars and restaurants. Usually accompanied by wine, beer or the classic Spanish cocktail, Sangria, tapas can be enjoyed as snacks or if you hang around long enough, these little dishes will add up to a complete meal.

Tapas can be served cold or warm and typically includes a selection of bread, cheese, olives, cured meat, potatoes, peppers, meat and seafood.

Interestingly, the word "tapas" actually comes from the Spanish word "tapar," which means "to cover." Legend has it that tapas were originally intended to protect wine from insects by using small pieces of bread or meat placed over the glasses. Thankfully, tapas has come a long way since then to now encompass a variety of small, delicious dishes to be shared with mates over a few bevvies.

Spanish tapas selection

Best Tapas Ideas

Recreating the tapas experience at home can be easily done. The beauty of tapas is that you have a wide variety of dishes to choose from, ranging from very simple to slightly more complex. Here are our top picks for popular tapas dishes you can make at home:

  • Pan con tomate – a staple on any tapas menu, this humble appetiser consists of toasted crusty bread rubbed with raw garlic and topped with ripe grated tomato and lashings of Spanish olive oil.
  • Jamón Serrano – thin slices of Spanish Serrano ham known for its salty, smoky flavour.
  • Marinated warm olives – manzanilla olives are the traditional choice, but a mix of other great quality olives will work just as well.
  • Manchego cheese – intense and zesty Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk.
  • Patatas bravas – Fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce.
  • Tortilla española – a Spanish-style omelette made with potatoes and onions.
  • Chorizo al vino tinto – Spanish chorizo cooked in red wine (usually Tempranillo or Rioja).
  • Gambas al ajillo – prawns sautéed in olive oil, garlic, paprika and chilli.
  • Croquetas – crumbed and fried ham, cheese and bechamel fritters. 


Tips for pairing wine with tapas

There are no hard and fast rules when pairing wines with tapas. Just like the laid-back nature of the tapas experience, take a relaxed approach and have fun trying new and unique combinations.

As a general guide, however, consider pairing fried or seafood tapas with aromatic white wines such as Verdelho or Albariño. For spicy tapas, opt for sweeter wines like Moscato or Spanish Rosado. For heartier dishes like chorizo or patatas bravas, try a medium to full-bodied red wine with a hint of spice such as Tempranillo or Rioja.


Which Red Wines Go with Tapas?

Heartier tapas dishes call for a red wine pairing. Tempranillo, Spain's most popular red wine, is a classic choice that pairs well with a wide range of tapas. Its rustic and savoury qualities, along with its pleasant acidity, make it a versatile match for a variety of food, ingredients, and textures. Look for the lighter, younger, and fruitier variety to complement your tapas.

Rioja, Grenache, Pinot Noir, and Malbec are also excellent options.

We suggest you try:


For a non-alcoholic red wine option to enjoy with your tapas, we recommend you pair it with McGuigan Zero Alcohol Red Blend.


Which White Wines Go with Tapas?

If you're enjoying lighter tapas, try pairing them with white wines. Wines originating from the Iberian coast, such as Verdelho and Albariño from Portugal and Spain, work particularly well. These wines are aromatic and have high acidity that can enhance the flavours of your tapas. They are a great match for cold meats, cheese, and seafood dishes such as garlic prawns.

Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris/Grigio also pair well with lighter-style tapas.

We suggest you try:


Or, for an alcohol-free white wine option to accompany your tapas, we suggest you try our clean and crisp McGuigan Zero Alcohol Sauvignon Blanc.

2022 McGuigan Mastercraft Rose

Which Sparkling Wines Go with Tapas?

Cava, sometimes referred to as the "Champagne of Spain", and Prosecco have a crisp and dry palate with fruity notes that can add a refreshing touch to your tapas experience and are versatile to pair with most dishes. They also have a slight sweetness that pairs well with sweet tapas, such as churros, dried fruit and nuts.

We suggest you try:


For a booze-free bubbles alternative to enjoy with your tapas, why not give our elegant and refreshing McGuigan Zero Alcohol Sparkling a go?


Which Rosé Wines Go with Tapas?

Whether you prefer the standard or a sparkling variety, Rosé is an excellent match with tapas. Bolder rosés can complement grilled meats, while sparkling varieties can enhance the flavours of smaller charcuterie-style appetisers. Rosé is also perfect with seafood tapas, such as garlic prawns, fried fish and marinated octopus.

We suggest you try:


We also have fantastic non-alcoholic Rosé options to have with your tapas. We recommend you try our McGuigan Zero Alcohol Sparkling Rosé.

Looking for that perfect bottle of vino to elevate your Spanish tapas experience? Shop our range today.

And for additional culinary inspiration, check out our recipes and food and wine pairing information.