How to make sense of Riesling? Food is one of the best ways we know to make sense of even the most tricky of wine subjects. So we try out a delicious monkfish and prawn curry as well as some pork terrine to try to get a handle on the grape variety that came top in our survey of the Best White Wine Grapes. (We also talk sourdough – but that’s something else entirely.)

Another way to make sense of wine is to talk to the people who make it. One man who embodies the spirit of Riesling more than perhaps anyone is German producer Ernst Loosen. His prodigious mind is a thing of beauty in full flow, and we’re treated to a masterclass of Riesling evangelism (and the odd profanity). We even give our top 3 Riesling tips at the end.

‘A hundred years ago Riesling was the most famous and expensive grape even in England. But we lost sight of our traditions…’ Ernst Loosen

Running Order

  • Introduction: 0 – 10.50
  • Interview with Ernst Loosen: 10.51 – 18.27
  • Tasting with Ernst Loosen: 18.28 – 25.56
  • Talking Riesling and food: 25.57 – 29.40
  • END: 31.12

‘A lot of people think German Riesling has traditionally been sweet. Not so! In Mosel we always had both styles. My great grandfather only made dry wines.’ Ernst Loosen


‘For me, a great wine needs ageing potential. If it’s dead after two or three years, it’s not a great wine, why should I pay all that money?!’ Ernst Loosen

Featured wines

  • Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Grosses Gewaches 2017 Alte Reben, 12.5% (£36, Pull The Cork, Harrogate Fine Wine, Ex-Cellar)
  • Schloss Schönborn Riesling Hattenheim Pfaffenberg trocken 2011, 13.5% (£21, Corney & Barrow)


Monkfish and king prawn curry

This has to be one of our all-time favourite curries. The combination of fruity tamarind, creamy coconut milk, fragrant spices, tangy tomatoes and aromatic coriander is heavenly. The meaty texture of the monkfish is ideal, as are the king prawns, all holding together perfectly and delivering the most satisfyingly luxurious flavours and texture. The recipe is adapted from a Jo Pratt dish.

Monkfish and King Prawn Curry recipe PDF


  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Serves: 6


  • 600g monkfish fillet, cut into 4 cm pieces
  • 400g raw peeled king prawns
  • 2 tbsp light olive oil
  • 2 white onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 red chillis, seeds in (use one or two according to how hot you like your curry)
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 12 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar (or soft light brown sugar)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • toasted coconut flakes and chopped fresh coriander to serve


Start by making the sauce. Heat the oil in a large, wide based saucepan and slowly cook the onions until softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the coriander seeds, fenugreek and cumin seeds to a small dry frying pan and heat, tossing regularly, until they become fragrant. Tip into the bowl of a food processor along with the chilli, garlic and ginger, and blend until finely chopped. Add the tinned tomatoes and blend again until you have a thick pulp.

Pour the tomato pulp into the saucepan with the onions and add the tamarind, curry leaves, sugar and fish sauce. Give everything a good stir before bringing to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes then tip in the coconut milk. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.

The sauce can now be left and re-heated when needed. Stir in the monkfish and prawns and heat through for a further 10 minutes until the fish is just cooked.

Serve with steamed basmati or jasmine rice and scatter over the fresh coriander leaves and toasted coconut.


  • After our shortest EVER episode last time, this time we revert to a format which is easier on the digestion.
  • We also apologise for skipping a week. Sorry! We have excuses…
  • On which note, there is talk of sourdough in this episode. Sorry again. We blame that Edd Kimber, The Boy Who Bakes
  • This episode features the phrase, ‘peak lockdown’. In the same sentence as ‘sourdough’ and ‘Ribolla Gialla’.
  • Ernst Loosen’s grandfather defined success in the wine business as being able to take an after-lunch nap every day. He was also a devotee of a glass of Riesling at 4pm sharp every day in his library.
  • Erni has a private cellar with more than 10,000 bottles. No wonder he finds it hard making up his mind as to which is his favourite.
  • If you think traditional German whites are sweet, listen to this episode. It offers a fascinating correction.
  • Also discussed are: Australia, Latour 1985 and Riesling’s ‘disaster’ years

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