Friday, June 29, 2007

Drinking in Korea

Warning, this post may be a little unfair.

I am, currently, a little dispirited(pun intended) with the state of drinking in Korea. As I stated last post it is very much a story of liquids to make you drunk. Now, don't get me wrong, I am all for getting drunk. Dylan Thomas, Oliver Reed, Jeffrey Bernard, Noah, Homer Simpson. Drunks are great company. When you are drunk. You can't be a student of wine without appreciating the effects of alcohol, something many wine writers seem to glaze over, but there is a caveat. That is, there should at least be some pleasure, real sensual pleasure, in the consumption of the alcohol. Not solely in the pleasure of a temporary suicide(thanks Bertrand Russell).

Drinking in Korea is all about getting wasted. I understand(for understand read: am aware of) the cultural nuances behind the drinking culture. I understand why Soju is so popular in the same way that I understand why white ciders are so popular in the UK. Money counts. I understand why Koreans want to drink beers that are brewed in Korea by Koreans. What I don't understand is why it is all so bad. Surely, with the economic growth in Korea, with the raising of living standards, with Sparkling Korea there could be a market for Soju that is not just made through dilution by mixing pure ethanol with water and flavoring. Surely there could be a market for a beer that tastes of something other than chemicals. A true quality spirits industry? Good quality wines, red and white at reasonable prices in every city. A country that has such an important cultural role for drinking should surely have a market for drinks above the industrial? Arirang TV each day has artisans of Korea making dresses, musical instruments, hats......Where are the artisan brewers? The artisan distillers?

I will admit that I am no expert on traditional Korean drinks, but what I see and have tasted that is available in most supermarkets does not instill much confidence. I think about Korea's neighbours, Japan, with their wonderful Sake, Whisky and beer producers and I wonder why can I not see this here. Why are people drinking Soju out of juice cartons with straws? Why was I drinking a beer last night with added fibre(produced by Hite....Called S......Added fibre......S.Hite indeed!)?

Drinking is a pleasure of the senses. Korea seems to offer only senseless drinking.

I tell you what though, the above post is most likely the result of too much S.Hite last night. I'll be revelling in the Korean drinks industry later tonight!

Two wines to report on this weekend. A big, oaky Chardonnay from South Africa and a very surprising Vins de Pays d'OC Viognier.


Anonymous said...

Have you tried Andong sujo? I hear it's a step above your average supermarket sujo.


Anonymous said...

this is the most random and retarded thing i've ever read. i couldn't tell what the point of the thing was until halfway down. then i had to re-read it to understand fully that it made no sense.