Sommelier picks white wines to beat the heat
Wine is like a big forest filled with hundreds of all kinds of trees, grasses and plants. They look similar but have their own character. Similarly thousands of different wines have unique flavors.
As there are literally thousands of wines in the world from French powerhouses of Bordeaux and Bourgogne to the rising new world stars of California and Chile, consumers are often confused about which one to choose to go with their dinner.
To this end there are professionals called sommeliers who can provide a map in the forest of wine and make people fall in love with their most appropriate partner. In that sense, a sommelier can be compared to a matchmaker.
During this hot and humid summer, a French white wine from Alsace can cool you from the heat and stress, says Lee Seung-hoon, a sommelier based in Busan. Lee is a two-time winner of a local sommelier competition hosted by the French government.
“In hot weather, white wine is better than red. And I recommend an Alsace Riesling from Weinbach,” Lee said in an interview with The Korea Times in a Seoul hotel last month.
The owner of the wine restaurant VINAfo also recommended another Alsace Riesling Cuvee Sainte Catherine. “I feel like one glass of Cuvee Sainte Catherine blows away my fatigue. It’s really good for this hot weather.”
Lee’s love for Alsace wine did not stop there. He expected that sales of Alsace and Rhone wines will increase in Korea as they match well with the country’s foods as well and are sold at reasonable prices. In particular, a Grenache blended with Chirac harmonizes well with Korean foods, he added.
“More and more consumers recognize wines produced in these regions. They may grow and compete with other traditional powerhouses such as Bordeaux and Bourgogne.”
In terms of the future of wine business here, he was optimistic about it though the sales of wines have dwindled for the last few years. The wine industry boomed in the early 2000s, but has lost steam recently as people moved to Korean traditional rice wine, “makgeolli” after the government promoted it emphasizing that it was healthy.
Lee said that it is inevitable that the wine industry will enjoy another boom because Korean culinary patterns are becoming more westernized. The issue is to embrace it as part of the culture on the table not a social accessory.
“It is at the bottom. Now, the only thing left is to go up,” Lee said.
Lee defined wine as his friend who shares his joys and comforts him during sorrow. And that’s why he is satisfied with the title of sommelier which he interprets as an evangelist of wine.