Friday, November 03, 2006

Maybe I wine too much, but there's hope for Korea yet...

Photo and Article by Ines Cho

Way back on March 10 of this year, Ines Cho wrote "Seven stories of vinoculture" for the Joong Ang Daily, which may sound like a collection of short stories but which is actually an article praising the Vinga wine bar, an upscale wine-and-dine bar located on the first floor of the seven-story Podo Plaza, a cubic building devoted entirely to wine and situated near the Poliform store south of the Seongsu Bridge in Seoul's Kangnam-gu business area.

I didn't notice Cho's article back in March, though I subscribe to the Joong Ang, but was indirectly led to it by way of an article that Holly Hubbard Preston wrote last weekend for the International Herald Tribune, "Asia develops a taste for fine wines," which has a disconcerting subtitle: "New money drives up prices for many vintages."


Well, for encouraging Koreans to develop more sophisticated tastes in wine, I suppose that this is the price that one has to pay ... literally.

Perhaps I should start tutoring English to those rich kids in Seoul's wealthy Gangnam district if it means that I can earn enough to stop off on my way back home and enjoy a fine wine in the Vinga wine bar, choosing from the "more than 3,500 bottles of about 380 select brands from around the world," according to Cho.

The Vinga.

Be sure to give the first syllable of that word a French nasal tone to avoid making yourself sound like an American Southerner talking about vinegar, which wouldn't quite convey the essence of fine wine that Vinga stands for. Just make the "Vin" in Vinga rhyme with "song" -- as in "sing a song of six pence" (only a lot more expensive since it's not going for a song). To pronounce the "ga," pretend that you're Audrey Hepburn playing Eliza Doolittle expressing surprise in My Fair Lady, and you'll get close enough.

As for the "Podo" of "Podo Plaza," it sounds as it looks (long "o" twice), and it means "grape" in Korean. Here's Cho's description of the plaza:

Designed to be the ultimate haven of wine in Seoul, the seven-story building has a retail store for wine, books and wine accessories on the first and second floor; a wine academy, Wine & Spirit Education Trust, on the fifth floor, and Korea's first wine museum on the third and fourth floors, with wine-related function halls on the sixth and seventh floors to be opened by next year.

Well, I'll definitely need to visit this place with my wife sometime soon ... if we can first secure that bank loan that we'll need for dining at the Vinga.

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