As far as I've known them, my then-inlaws would begin their Chrismas Eve dinner celebrations with a simple but delicious spread of aperitifs, including Spanish olives, cheese, and wine or tequila depending on the type of festivities. The simplicity of this classic combination of savory delights like the olives would always keep my attention. They were the perfect starter to open up an appetite and not overindulge before any meal. It was then that I came to see olives as more than just a pickled ingredient in a side dish— it was now part of a tradition. Only in my later years have I fully appreciated these savory fruits, more than just in my martinis — which I still very much do— from fancy olive oil, blue cheese stuffed versions for said martinis, and even to have on hand for my dinner party aperitif situations.
Last week I was invited to a very special tasting event in San Francisco known as the Great Match, showcasing distinctive wine, food, and culture from Spain. Spain is one of those countries that I have always envisioned myself living in so I, of course, jumped at the opportunity to eat, drink and be merry amongst all this Spanish culture. One of the sections I spent the most time at during this tasting was the Olives from Spain area. I tasted a plethora of seasoned and stuffed olives- from citrusy sweet ripe black olives, to giant queen olives seasoned with crisp apple slivers and goat cheese, to a more savory smaller green olive that really opened up my palette when matched with a heavier Spanish red wine.
I've always assumed wine paired well with olives, but the longer I hung out at the Olives from Spain section it seemed very apparent that olives were the perfect snack to pair with any varietal of wine. To be perfectly honest I kept going back for a taste of cava paired with my saltiest olive preference- which in my opinion was the perfect pre-meal snack. This Thanksgiving holiday I'm not sure what I'll do for my holiday dinner planning, but whatever I bring to my in-law's dinner party I know it'll probably entail Spanish olives.