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Autumn Tapas Party at Your Patio

If you love to entertain outdoors and you are dreading upcoming brisk weather, make it a point to get outdoors before the evenings get too blustery and cold to enjoy your patio or deck. A laid-back Spanish menu is a perfect way to assemble an after-work get-together or a casual weekend soiree that allows you to emphasize enjoying time with family and friends. 


Enjoying the Last Few Days of Indian Summer

When decorating your outdoor entertaining area for an evening gathering in the autumn, you can take advantage of the beautiful fall colors that have come to life in the trees (depending on your location, of course). Even if you live in a place that doesn’t have a change of color in the autumn, you can take inspiration from earth tones and warm, vibrant colors of the season. 


Keeping with a Spanish theme, buy a few paper fans to add to your centerpieces and decorate tables and chairs with paper flowers that are reminiscent of the maravilla flowers that traditionally dressed female flamenco dancers adorn their hair with. Maravilla flowers can be any large and colorful flower, such as a rose, carnation, or hibiscus. There are tutorials by the dozen that can be found on how to make colorful paper flowers (this is a particularly good one) for party decorations that you can match to any color scheme that appeals to you. 


Wine is a must for any respectable evening get-together in Spain, so even if you and your guests are not drinkers, consider adding a few pretty wine glasses out that hold small candles in your centerpieces to enhance outdoor lighting. 

Tapas They’ll Rave About

When choosing your menu, there are a few tapas recipes that seem to be particularly popular for autumn:


  • Champiñones Rellenos: This is an incredibly simple stuffed mushroom recipe to put together and pass around to your guests. Wash and remove the stems from a pint of fresh button mushrooms, then fill the caps with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, and some wonderful, diced-up Iberian ham. Heat through in your oven or on the grill, and serve while hot.

  • Dátiles con Beicon: These salty-sweet dates wrapped in bacon are an amazing appetizer any time of the year, but especially in cool weather. Simply wrap dried dates (remember to remove any pits) in some good bacon, and cook on the grill or in the oven until the bacon is as crisp as you like it. These are often served with a tangy roasted red pepper sauce

  • Chorizo a la Sidra: This recipe is from the region of Asturias, and is chorizo cooked in hard cider. Spanish chorizo is much different in taste and texture than Latin American chorizo, so make sure to ask at your local meat counter for Spanish-style chorizo to make this delicious dish. Cut your chorizo into bite-sized pieces, and brown them in a skillet with a bay leaf and some olive oil. If you can locate some Spanish hard cider (a few notable hard ciders from Spain are Sidra Fanjul, Viuda de Angelon, and Guzman Riestra) that is great, otherwise you can use any hard cider that you enjoy (Angry Orchard can be found pretty much anywhere). Add about one bottle to your skillet full of browned chorizo. Allow the sausage to simmer in the cider for 20 minutes. Serve the chorizo in the reduced cider, with skewers and some crusty bread.

Mix Up an Autumn Sangria

It isn’t a tapas party without some sangria. Some of the tastiest sangrias can be made with autumn fruits, so this is a great opportunity to wow your guests with a knock-out drink to serve with tapas.


Autumn Fruits Sangria



  • 1 bottle of light-bodied red wine (good wines to use for sangria are Tempranillo, Garnacha, a light-bodied Spanish Rioja, Italian Primitivo, or a California Zinfandel)

  • ½ cup Calvados (you can substitute Laird’s Applejack, Somerset Cider Brandy, or Armagnac)

  • 2 cups apple or pear cider

  • 1/4 cup simple syrup

  • 1/2 cup seeded, diced pear

  • 1 seeded, cored and chopped apple

  • 1/2 orange - quartered and sliced

  • The seeds from one pomegranate

  • 3 or 4 cinnamon sticks, and a star anise


In a large, glass pitcher, combine everything; refrigerate a minimum of 12 hours before serving.


Tips for great sangria: 


  1. If your sangria is not sweet enough for your taste, add a little more simple syrup or fruit juice. For a sparkling sangria, top off your guests’ glasses of sangria with a splash of club soda, ginger ale, or ginger beer.

  2. Don’t put expensive wines into sangria. You want to use a wine that you would not be ashamed to serve as-is, but there is no reason to splurge on over-the-top, high-end wine for a sangria recipe.

  3. Make sure your sangria has time to sit before serving. Letting the flavors integrate is one secret to great sangria, so making it up to 24 hours ahead of time is recommended.


Great Spanish Wines for Fall

Wine is a must when dining in the evening in Spain. If you are unsure of what wines to serve with your tapas, there are lots of delicious Spanish wines out there that your guests will love. 


  • Garnacha: This deep red, earthy, wine is not too full-bodied, but nonetheless it pairs up well with the richer flavors of autumn foods. The same grape is used in French and American Grenache. This wine is usually very affordable, and often provides flavor notes of berries, cherry, and spices, so autumn is an especially good time to pair food with Garnacha.

  • Rioja: La Rioja is a small region located in the North of Spain, along the Ebro River Valley. The best time to sample the famous Riojas of the region is arguably in the autumn. The region is known for a vast number of various delicious varietals, including white wines and rosés -- all of which can (confusingly) be referred to as “Rioja”. 

  • Tempranillo: This is a medium to a full-bodied, vibrant red with well-developed tannins. Some of the best examples come from the Rioja region. That said, there are also respectable Australian and American Tempranillos out there to sample. Flavor notes often include tobacco, leather, and traditional autumn spices like clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Music For Your Tapas Party

Flamenco guitar is a great choice of music for your Spanish-themed get-together. Here are some of the greats of flamenco style guitar for you to play for your guests:



  • Ramón Montoya: Possibly the best-known flamenco guitarist, Montoya elevated the art form during the mid-20th century, and is now celebrated as one of the greatest ever. He blended his knowledge of traditional guitar with a heavier gypsy influence, bringing the style to the forefront. 

  • Agustín Castellón Campos, or “Sabicas”: When the Spanish Civil War broke out in the 1930s, the Spanish guitar legend known as Sabicas traveled to Latin America, and eventually to New York City, where he wowed American crowds with his magical guitar stylings. This virtuoso is credited with bringing Flamenco guitar outside of Spain and to a new, international audience. 

  • Paco De Lucía: In the latter end of the 20th century, this artist became a huge star in flamenco guitar, bringing an experimentalist style that broadened the style -- but was also known for his mastery of the traditional form. 


With the combination of food, wine, music, and friends, you should have all the ingredients you need to make the perfect autumn get-together. Enjoy the waning warm weather, and live life to the fullest while enjoying delicious Spanish cuisine and enjoying the company of your friends and loved ones. 



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