Kitchen Tips

An Easy Guide to Korean Wines

Food and wine always go hand in hand and Korean cuisine is no different. Wine is an essential part of Korean culture and tradition. Koreans have been producing and consuming a vast variety of alcoholic beverages for a long time now.

Korean alcoholic beverages are increasingly becoming popular among food and wine connoisseurs and the Aussies love pairing their meals with a wine while dining with their family and friends.

There are ample varieties of Korean wines that have medicinal values and are made with a range of fruits, flowers and medicinal herbs which ensures that there is something for everyone.

Here are the most common types of wines produced in Korea:

Makgeolli ( Korean Rice Wine)

Makgeolli, also known as Makkoli or Makuly(takju – traditional liquors ) is referred to  as Korean rice wine in English and is the oldest alcoholic beverage in Korea. It is made from grains such as sweet rice, regular rice, barley, wheat and malt, which gives it a milky, off-white color, and sweetness. It is made by fermenting grains and mixed with water, and is about 6–8% alcohol by volume. Makgeolli contains high levels of lactic acid and bacteria which aids digestion and is known to improve immunity.

It is traditionally drunk in bowls and is popular in both Japan and Korea. Mildly sweet and tart, it can be sipped on its own or mixed with cocktails and served chilled. It is great for social gatherings and weekend brunches.

makgeolli - Korean Wines

Image Courtesy: hirotomo t used under the Creative Commons Licence


Soju – the traditional beverage

Soju is Korea’s most popular alcoholic beverage and is traditionally made from rice, wheat or barley. However, modern Soju often replaces rice with other starches such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, or tapioca. It is clear and colourless and tastes similar to the Aussie favourite vodka but is sweeter due to sugars being added in the manufacturing process. Soju is often consumed in group gatherings and is also popularly mixed in a wide variety of cocktails. This drink is ideal for a barbeque party and for dinner.

Soju - Guide to Korean Wines

Image Courtesy: Graham Hills used under the Creative Commons Licence


Sansachun – the medicinal alcohol

This winter, if you like something that calms your nerves and soothes your senses, reach for a bottle of sansachun. Koreans believe it has a calming, therapeutic effect and is also known medicinal alcohol. It is made from fermenting a red fruit called Sansa/ Chinese hawthorn which belongs to the rose family and has a subtle fruity flavor. This drink is ideal for cold and chilly winters along with barbeques.

Exotic fruit wines

Fruit wines in Korea made from some of the handpicked, exotic fruits. Bokbunja, also known as Korean Raspberry Wine, is made from Korean Black Raspberries and is known to have rich anti-oxidants and is known to be good for the liver. This drink is ideal for weeknight dinners as it will be light and easy.

exotic fruit wine - Easy Guide to Korean Wines
Image Courtesy: xtinehlee used under the Creative Commons Licence


Mulberry wines have a unique taste and aroma which makes it different from other berries. The high concentration of mulberries in this beverage give it an unmatched sweetness and flavour that not only appeals to your palette but has great health benefits too.


Wild grape wines made in Korea are very sweet and have accentuating flavours of the grapes. Similar to red wine, wild grape wines are believed to have heart healthy and anti-cancer effects when consumed in moderation.

You might also want to check out our delicious Beef Bulgogi with Cabernet Merlot, Massaman Beef Curry with Merlot 2013 , BBQ Sweet Chilli Seafood with Sauvignon Blanc and also 5 Tips – Matching Asian Food with Wine.


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