6 Wine Pairings for Authentic Korean Cuisine

Korean cuisine is one of the unique cuisines in the world. It incorporates flavors from the Far East, such as soy sauce and ginger, but it also contains a wide variety of traditional spices from Korea. While beer and soju are the first beverages that come to mind for pairing, the complexity of Korean food allows for wine to shine, as well. Various wines are ideal to complement traditional Korean food due to their spicy and sweet flavors. Like an antidote to the spiciness of Korean food, wine can help balance the spiciness and smooth out the texture.

Popular Korean Food and Wine Pairings

1. Kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional side dish in Korean cuisine. It contains fermented cabbage and other ingredients like radish, green onion, garlic, and ginger. Fermentation helps improve the nutrients present in the cabbage. You can pair Kimchi with light wines like Pinot grigio or Sauvignon blanc because they can off-set the intense flavors from the fermentation process.

kimchi and wine pairing recommendation

2. Pajeon

This light dish is made of flour and chopped green onion batter. It is a popular starter in Korean restaurants. It is served with chili paste and can be eaten with beer or white wine. The best wine to pair with this dish is Riesling because it brings out the flavor of green onion used to make the texture of the Pajeon.

3. Bulgogi

Bulgogi is a popular Korean dish with pork marinated in sweet soy sauce and other ingredients like garlic, ginger, and scallions. The taste of Bulgogi is typically sweet from the marinating sauce, but it can get spicy from the grill. It is served with a few side dishes, such as lettuce or ssamjang (spicy-sweet bean paste). We recommend pairing Bulgogi with a dry red wine like Chianti. It complements the texture of Bulgogi and brings out the spicy flavor of the grilled marinated pork.

bulgogi wine pairing

4. Kimbap

Kimbap is a popular Korean dish of steamed rice wrapped around fillings like Kimchi, tuna, and pickle. It can be served with gochujang (Korean chili paste) or inari zushi (fried tofu). We recommend pairing KimbapKimbap with a Riesling because it complements the texture of Kimbap and brings out the sweetness of pickle and tuna in Kimbap.

5. Korean BBQ

Korean BBQ is another popular dish in Korean cuisine. It contains thinly sliced beef or pork that is marinated, grilled, and served with a dish of lettuce, bean sprout, and Korean dipping sauce. We recommend pairing BBQ with Chianti because it complements the texture of the meat and brings out the flavor of the moist meat.

6. Gochujang (Korean Chili Paste)

Gochujang is a traditional Korean sauce made of red chili, fermented soybean paste, and various seasonings. It is used to make Kimchi and prepare dishes like Bulgogi and Bibimbap. The best wine to pair with Gochujang is Riesling because it cuts through the bold flavors and smoothes out the acidity.

Gochujang and wine pairing suggestion

Korean cuisine is usually spicy and bold. It contains various spices and flavors, but it also contains fermented ingredients like Kimchi and Bulgogi. The best wines to pair with Korean cuisine are Chianti, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel. These wines will complement the spiciness of Korean food while bringing out the boldness in the structure of Korean dishes. Remember to consider the dish’s spice level and bold flavors, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different wine pairings. 

With the right approach, you can find the perfect wine to complement your Korean meal and enhance your dining experience.

Minimum 4 characters