About the Sommelier: In Newfoundland, Brie Dema is known as a ‘come from away’ but in less than 2 years she placed her mark on the Newfoundland & Labrador culinary scene. Brie is Head Sommelier at the internationally acclaimed Fogo Island, where she incorporates Spanish wines into her wine as a nod to the centuries’ long relationship between the coastal Canadian island and Spain. Brie was formerly Head Sommelier at George in Toronto and a sommelier at the celebrated Langdon Hall in Ontario.

In ‘Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World’ author Mark Kurlansky chronicles the rise and fall of the almighty North American cod fished from the waters on Newfoundland’s shores. The Basque fishermen of the early sixteenth century played an integral role as the first to introduce North American cod to Europe, made possible by the salting/preserving process that they used. This method made its impact; there are no Basque, Spanish, Portuguese or Italian words that reference fresh cod, only salted (bakailaoa, bacalao, bacalhau, baccalà), and there are many dishes in these countries that reflect this traditional ingredient. The fish is soaked at length to take the salt content out, and the result is a textural firmness with a more savory rather than fishy flavour. It is mild, and a perfect canvass for Spanish accompaniments like onions, garlic, simmered tomatoes, and the dried choricero peppers specific to the Rioja region. Ingredients with such strong flavours coupled with the meatiness of the salt cod pairs wonderfully with the elegant, mature red Rioja wines; savory, fine grained tannins and layers of spice notes with ripe and dried fruit flavours make a heavenly match.

Cod Stuffed Peppers

Atlantic Canada and Spain have shared fishing grounds – mostly amicably – for centuries. The bright freshness of Rioja rosado work wonderfully texturally with Atlantic cod. What could be better than sitting outside and enjoy a glass of Rioja rosado with this recipe for Cod Stuffed Peppers.

4 to 6 servings

1 jar piquillo peppers*
1/4 lb salt cod, covered in water for 24 hours
1 rib celery, finely chopped
3 -4 bay leaves
Fish stock or water
1 lb potatoes, chopped, boiled in salted water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 red onion, minced
2 tbsp parsley, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 chives, minced

Directions: Remove salt cod from water. Place cod, celery and bay leaves in a pot. Cover with an inch of stock or water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 3 minutes. Remove fish from pot. Discard poaching liquid. Flake fish with a fork. Roughly mash potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.  Add red onion and parsley to the mashed potato. Fold in fish. Mix to combine. Spoon fish and potato mixture into peppers. Set a cast-iron pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil.  Sear peppers until slightly charred. Sprinkle with chives to serve.

*Available in the international aisle of many grocery stores.


*Cru by CAPS & the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers would like to thank and acknowledge the Rioja DOCs and other funding partners for supporting the production of this content.