Monday, February 05, 2007

Since I'm blogging about beverages...

Bar Rouge of JW Marriott, Seoul
American Jazz Musician LaDee Streeter Performing
Bar Rouge Now Offering "Wine Flights"

...I might as well include a note about wine, for obtaining a bottle of fine wine here in Korea is also getting easier.

Yang Sung-jin has written an article, "It's time for Wine," and published it in the weekend edition of The Korea Herald (February 3, 2007), and notes that...

Wine is no longer a luxury item in Korea. A growing number of people taste, buy and collect wine. And the list of wines available here is growing quickly, targeting diverse local consumers with various preferences.

I'd inferred this myself from the shift that I've seen over the years, for decent wines, previously available only in special wine shops, have begun to appear on the shelves of local stores, even the mom-and-pop stores in our neighborhood. Yang suggests a reason that this is happening:

The driving force behind the wine market's growth is the public's heightened awareness about their health. Scientific and anecdotal evidence is promoting the idea that wine is healthier than other alcoholic beverages such as soju and beer.

Hmmm.... I rather doubt that health concerns constitute the driving force. I myself cite wine's health benefits to my health-conscious wife, but that's just rationalization. In my more honest moments, I admit that I simply like a fine wine, and I'd drink one even if somebody proved that it kills a few brain cells. I suspect that Koreans aren't much different in this respect.

Besides, if health benefits were the driving force, why would there be such growing interest in wine tasting and in wine expertise?

No, status is the driving force. Wine offers status by endowing the one who drinks it, especially the one who knows how to drink it, with a certain sophistication, and Koreans are very status-conscious. We can measure the rise in Korean status by the metric of money spent on imports:
In early 2000, Korea imported just $20 million worth of wine. In 2005, the figure tripled to $66 million.

Status tripled between 2000 and 2005, a statustistic of which Koreans can be truly proud!

And for those of you living in Seoul and wishing to share in this abundance of status, you're in luck, for Gypsy Scholar hereby provides you with some places to go, courtesy of Mr. Yang Sung-jin:

Wine bars are also gaining in popularity. Bar Rouge (02-6282-6262) offers special promotions for wine lovers: "Wine Flights." The special offering allows guests to try four different kinds of wines at an affordable price. There are three wine flights comprised of four different wines each.

ANN (02-722-3301), a wine bar located in Samcheong-dong, Seoul, is drawing hip professionals, and Mingadaehyeon (02-733-2966) in Insa-dong is well known among local wine lovers.

Tour du Vine (02-533-1846) in Bangbae-dong is a food shop, but visitors can drink wine in the adjacent cafe. A wide range of wine and cheese is available, and various wine-tasting events are also held.
Cheese too? Wow! As Super Junior says, "Life couldn't get better!"

Well ... maybe it could.

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At 4:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My goal is to someday (soon) live in/near the country, and to have a few acres. Besides a garden, I plan on putting in some grapes. One of my great uncles back in the Midwest grew his own grapes and made wine for years. Once while I was home on leave – and underage – the then 80-something old man got to talking about wine and having me sample a bit of this and that. Before I knew it I had a pretty good buzz going. He made it well into his 90s, perhaps in part due to his homemade red wine.

At 5:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sounds like a nice aim. I'd like something along those lines as well, but I'm unlikely to obtain it since I have other things to do in the meantime.

But once you get your winery going, you might find me knocking on your door, so you'd best start practicing that jazzy old country song "If I'd Knowed You Was Coming..."

Jeffery Hodges

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