Conflicting Korean food and wine pairing tips
Chef Christopher Bates of FLX Wienery in Seneca Lake, N.Y., just gave Wine Spectator his recipe for his K-town Burger, which is billed as a flavorful and a little bit spicy mix of beef, kimchi and Korean barbecue sauce. He also included a wine-pairing recommendation that might confuse some Korean food lovers.Wine Spectator notes that Bates “recommends a juicy Pinot pairing” to tango with his Korean cuisine-inspired hamburger. Sweeter white wines, such as gewürztraminer or riesling, are usually paired with Korean cuisine, but don’t take the easy way out by walking to the gewürztraminer or riesling section of your local grocery store or liquor store on autopilot to fill your basket full of off-dry white wines.
Bates’ recommendation seems to fit with consumer trends. Wine blogs such as Domaine Somm also pair pinot noir with Korean staples such as 비빔밥 bibimbap (mixture of sauteed vegetables over rice, often with meat and egg) and 불고기 bulgogi (savory-sweet sauteed beef).
Koreans are showing pinot noir some love in the Land of the Morning Calm. A vote of confidence has come from large Korean retailer Shinsegae, which placed an order for 27,000 bottles of Oregon pinot noir and pinot gris for its domestic market in 2013. Trade barriers between the U.S. and South Korea have come down, bringing more pinot noir into Korean restaurants and dinner parties.
As a Californian, it is fair to say that I have a bias for drinking wine with my meals, regardless of ethnic origin, whenever possible. But if wine is not your style, there are other options that are also easily found in American grocery stores. Koreans usually drink lager-style beer with their meals, but I would encourage you to walk a different path through the beer section. Korean taco food truck champion Roy Choi advises grabbing a case of hefeweisen instead.