Rosado and Sardines – A Perfect Match

      4 Comments on Rosado and Sardines – A Perfect Match

fresh sardines grilled savor the harvesstMark and I love fresh sardines. Grilled with lemon and garlic, stuffed, or adding to a pasta dish are some favorite preparations. When we make them, we reach for our favorite pairing, a Spanish Rosado.

Sardines are more popular now and when in season, you can sometimes spot them at US fish markets. Here in Bordeaux they’re abundant, as well as in Spain.

We just returned from Spain where indulging in sardines was mandatory. And in doing so we had a great laugh remembering our first sardine experience. Their short season started July 1st so I thought I’d humor you with our faux pas and leave a recipe. Summer and sardines just go together, especially if you have a grill!


Mark and I arrived at the Barcelona flat at 5:00 p.m. Showering unveiled a second wind and off we went into the streets crawling with people. Our quest? Locate a tapas bar from which we’d kick off our one-month food, wine and hiking adventure in northern Spain. “BA2” was off to a good start.

Hunger pangs took over in front a tapas bar in the Barri Gotic (gothic quarter). Finding a perfect table outside, we started with my craving: Boquerones en Vinagre (silver backed anchovies cured in vinegar then drizzled with olive oil) and an order of tomato bread. With two glasses of Rosado (Spanish dry rose), we were settling in comfortably.

anchovies boquerones Barcelona savor the harvest

Spanish food tomatoes

Slices of grilled or toasted bread are vigorously rubbed with garlic and a halved tomato then finished with a drizzle of olive oil.

The waiter suggested we try Boquerones Rebozados.

tapas Spanish food

With this dish, anchovies are butterflied, lightly coated in breadcrumbs then fried. They served it over Piperade- wow!

Another round of Rosados required, accompanied by a small gift of mussels.

spanish rosato wineOur final tapa arrived – Sardinas a la Plancha con Perejil (grilled sardines with parsley). Previously, we’d only enjoyed sardines from a can. Neither Mark nor I had seen them fresh which as those who eat them know, are much bigger. And they were a plate load!

The hubby asked “How do you eat these?” Our short discussion went like this after being up for 36 hours and several glasses of wine later.

Lynn: “Just cut them up and eat them!”

Mark: “Are you sure? They’re bigger, bones and all?”

Lynn: “Ah, yeah, I think so. I think they’re softer. Why not?”

Surprise! What a mess. Looking sheepishly at an adjacent table we discovered you cut them in half and pull the main spine bone out. A perfect tourista moment.

I hope anyone not familiar with fresh sardines isn’t scared away! They’re quite tasty and pair nicely with various white and rosé wines. An added bonus – they’re high in omega 3 fatty acids. Here’s an easy, tasty recipe that can be altered to suit your taste.

Grilled Sardines!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Grilled (or Pan Seared) Sardines with Parsley Garlic Gremolata
Recipe type: Seafood
Cuisine: Spanish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
Grilled or pan-seared sardines are not only tasty, they're a healthier fish choice high in Omegas and pair seamlessly with Spanish Rosado.
  • 5 sardines, cleaned with spine, head and tail removed
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (15 ml)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil (30 ml)
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley (1/2 of a bunch)
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh mint (1/2 of a bunch)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked Paprika (2.5 g)
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs (optional)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Combine the garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, parsley, mint, and paprika; mix to combine. If using breadcrumbs and Parmesan, mix them in. The mixture should be moist, not too dry or wet. Taste and add additional olive oil and/or lemon juice as desired, and to obtain consistency.
  2. Stuff each sardine with a heaping tablespoon of gremolata, making sure to not over fill. Close each and secure with a few toothpicks. Alternatively, if grilling you can wrap them individually in foil.
  3. To grill: Heat grill to medium-high. Clean and oil grates, place sardine foil packs on grill and cook 3-5 minutes. Turn over cooking the second side the same. (If you secure them with toothpicks, you can carefully put them directly on the grill.)
  4. If pan searing: Add about a tablespoon of oil to a pan and heat over medium-high. When warm, add sardines (they should sizzle slightly) being careful not to crowd. You may have to cook them in two batches. Sear the first side about 3-5 minutes. Flip and do the same to the second side to crispy golden brown.
  5. Serve immediately with roasted baby potatoes, your favorite grilled vegetables, a mixed green salad, or anything that works for you!
  6. Remember to serve with a glass of chilled Spanish Rosado!


Here are two other recipes I’ve made and quite liked:

Fried Sardines with Parsley Caper Sauce from Italian Food Forever

Grilled Sardines in Grape Leaves with Lemon Sauce from Katerina Skouzina


4 thoughts on “Rosado and Sardines – A Perfect Match

  1. Lauren Walsh

    You’ve hit upon my most favorite food and wine experience: rosado and sardinas a la plancha, served at a seaside restaurant! During my first trip to Spain in 2007 I ate this almost every day, with a classmate, and never tired of it. Always reminds me of one of the best times of my life. Cheers Lynn!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Thanks for sharing your great memory Lauren! Nice to hear someone else who enjoys then as much as we do.

  2. Ellie

    Looks lovely! I am reminded of a trip to the south of France my family made about 12 years ago. They went to a restaurant and ordered a meal done in a particular way they thought meant “family style”, where the restaurant would figure out what to serve them and there was no real ordering of any food in particular. When the food arrived, they were disappointed to see that it was all cold “antipasto” style food. So they ate the sliced meats, olives, cheese, and bread, and the waiter was giving them funny looks, and then after they had eaten their fill of the appetizer course, the real meal arrived! My family thought the cold cheese and meat course was the main, and they didn’t really leave any room for the actual main course when it arrived! I’m sure they were doing their part to confirm the stereotype of Americans being gluttons!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Thanks for sharing your great story Ellen, these are the little travel adventures that stick with us for a life time!


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