Its official – in 2014 the cool kids and beautiful people will be eating Korean food, talking about Korean food, and possibly even fermenting their own kim-chi at home (I’m neither cool nor beautiful but will definitely be giving kim-chi a go!). But if you do get invited to share Korean food by a hipster friend, what should you take to drink? Check out our 60-second bluffer’s guide to pairing Korean food with wine.


While not necessarily a stand-alone dish in itself, kim-chi (fermented cabbage and chilli) is often referred to as the national dish of Korea, so it seems a good place to start. As a fermented food, it has a softer acid than many pickles, and can often bring out fruitier notes from the chillies, rather than just raw heat. Grenache based wines like the Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Grenache showing sweet fruit and spicy notes would be great to complement the intense aromatics and acidity of this dish. Also try a juicy Wolf Blass Yellow Label Pinot Noir.

Another popular dish is the Korean barbecue – much more of a sit down affair than ‘Dad out in the backyard’ – bulgogi (marinated thinly sliced meat) is quickly cooked on small grills set in the middle of the table and eaten with a large number of side dishes. Avoid the temptation to match with tannic full bodied reds – medium bodied reds like the Wolf Blass Yellow Label Merlot or the Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Cabernet can balance the smoky notes of the meat beautifully.
Korean Seafood

Living on a peninsula, it’s not surprising that seafood dishes are a Korean staple. These can still contain a lot of spice and flavour, but lighter aromatic wines like the Wolf Blass Yellow Label Riesling or perhaps a Wolf Bass Red Label Traminer Riesling can stand up to the flavours in the food and bring an element of †fine minerality to the dishes.

Finally we come to bibimbap, a one-pot meal of rice, meat and vegetables that is relatively delicately flavoured (unless slathered in chilli sauce). This feel-good-healthy-comfort-food kind of dish is popular around the world and a great match for a crisp Eaglehawk Rosť with its attractive red fruits and soft tannins.

One of the key points is that high-tannin wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon or big Shiraz’s are too dominant for most Korean dishes, and that softer reds showing good fruit sweetness will really shine with the salty, earthy notes in the food. If you can’t find anything to tempt you here then take some soju (fermented rice spirit) with you – according to Drinks International it’s the most popular alcoholic spirit in the world, with South Korea producing a staggering 580 million litres annually.