Muga Rioja blanco 2015

Muga Rioja Blanco 2015, Spain

(£9.99, Majestic or via Wine Searcher

This Muga white Rioja is a rare example of an elegantly oaked white under a tenner on the UK high street (and indeed elsewhere, if you care to check the Wine Searcher link).

It made a seamless pairing for a dish I would certainly not automatically have put on its list of ‘things to eat alongside this wine’. Mainly due to my own culinary ignorance, I suppose. Anyway, Swedish stuffed dumplings (kroppkakor) with lingonberries and brown butter are a new addition to the potential pairing list – thank you Emma Bengtsson, the Swedish chef who brought this marvellous dish to Saturday Kitchen and in doing so expanded my gastronomic horizons.

Incidentally, knowing Swedish chefs, and this country’s proud gastronomic tradition, I did indeed try the recipe with both vodka and milk. The former fired you up. The latter cooled you down (and actually made a very decent pairing, perhaps if you’re doing dry January).

But this wine just melded its gentle contours perfectly to the cosy, heart-warming flavours of the dish, with its rich dumplings, indulgent brown butter and savoury mushrooms. The tangy kick provided by the lingonberries was matched by the juicy acidity of the wine. It was a great partnership, made all the more delightful by being unexpected.

‘Delicious – good choice!’ commented Emma, adding when questioned that normally she’d enjoy her dumplings with a cold beer. ‘Perfect combination,’ interjected fellow chef Atul Kochhar, noting how the freshness of the wine cut through the richness of the dumplings. ‘Great choice,’ summed up show host Michel Roux Jr. (7/10, Peter, Jan 2017)