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
‘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
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.
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.