Korean dishes are known for being full-on: sweet, spicy and savoury flavours are balanced out by a myriad of different vegetables, meats, noodles and rice. Typically generous with chilli and garlic as well, Korean food can be difficult to pair with wine, but not impossible.
Whether you or your customers are serving more traditional Korean dishes, or fusing Korean ingredients in things like bulgogi tacos, kimchi mayonnaise and chilli paste marinade to give a kick to other foods, here are our suggestions for fantastic wine pairings with Korean flavours.
Salted and fermented radishes or cabbage seasoned with chilli powder, garlic, jeotgal (salted seafood such as shrimp and fish), ginger, and scallions, Kimchi is perhaps Korea's most well-known side dish and has become almost synonymous with Korean cuisine. Axel Pauly ‘Purist’ Riesling Kabinett Trocken is the wine to pair with this sour and spicy dish’s tang. The wine’s highly floral nose, crisp acidity, 11% alcohol and light body make it an ideal partner.
Quite literally meaning ‘mixed rice’ in Korean, Bibimbap is a bowl of warm rice with seasoned vegetables, chilli pepper paste, soy sauce, a fried or raw egg and thin slices of meat, usually beef. A New Zealand Pinot Noir, such as Kim Crawford ‘South Island’, would pair wonderfully with this dish. Fine silky tannins bring out the succulent flavours of the meat while the perfumed nose complement the warmth of the bibimbap.
This is a sweet and savoury potato noodle stir-fry with vegetables, meat and soy sauce. A light, bright wine is needed to balance the mix of flavours and textures. Kaiken Terroir Series Torrontés is an ideal match, with fresh peach and orange peel notes, and balanced acidity that will complement the sweetness of this dish.
Small Korean rice dumplings with savoury fish cakes, boiled eggs and spring onions, this dish is often seasoned with chilli paste or soy sauce. The long finish, bracing acidity and fresh notes of mango and pineapple make the Ponte del Diavolo Sauvignon Blanc from the hills of the Veneto a great pairing to this dish.
Called ‘Fire meat’ in Korean and part of the family of grilled or roasted dishes termed 'gui', this dish is made of thin marinated slices of beef or pork grilled on a barbecue or stove-top griddle. For something a bit different that will pair well, Keigetsu Tokubetsu Junmai ’Aikawa Homare’ Sake would be a great choice. Served warm or cold, this Sake has savoury umami notes with aromas of honeydew melon and sweet chestnut paste that will help elevate the flavours of the dish.