Wine bar offers new world wines without the old world attitudes

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Wine bar offers new world wines without the old world attitudes

Transoceanic travel isn’t easy on people. It’s harder on wine.
So when cases are delivered to Michael Sung’s Gwanghwamun wine cafe, Vineola, he says, “I let them ‘rest’ for a few days, and then let them ‘sleep’ in comfort.”
Mr. Sung is so in tune with his wines’ needs that he no longer needs a thermostat for the cellar.
During his years in Canada, he says he acquired a taste for wine that is just part a lifestyle that includes “music, company, ambience and more.”
Years ago in Korea, he says, his friends didn’t have the opportunity to appreciate wine because it was very expensive and often improperly served at restaurants and bars. “If you were introduced to something that’s expensive and doesn’t taste good,” he says, “then why would you bother to drink it again?”
He believes that wine should be enjoyed in an inviting, unpretentious atmosphere. So when he opened his cafe, he searched for a name that would work nicely in Korean. Vineola means a small vineyard or jageun podobat in Korean; a humble name that has drawn college students and young professionals to his doors.
Vineola’s wine list features affordable wines that are personally selected by Mr. Sung. Rather than stock French varietals, he prefers so-called “new world” wines from Chile, Australia and Canada.
At Vineola, a bottle of Australian 2000 Wyndham Estate BIN 888 Cabernet-Merlot will set you back 43,000 won ($35). A Chilean 1999 Monte Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon costs 59,000 won, and a Argentinean 2001 Alamos Malbec from is 43,000 won. Most wines can be purchased by the glass for 6,000 won.
Mr. Sung has recently been turning his patrons on to Canadian ice wine, which is a fine accompaniment to desserts. Served chilled, ice wine is delightfully sweet and leaves a clean aftertaste. Mr. Sung’s favorite: the 2000 Colio Estate Vineyard Videl, which he sells for 8,000 won a glass and 69,000 won for a 200-milliliter bottle.
Cheese plates ― smoked Gouda, Edam or Brie ― start at 12,000 won.

by Ines Cho
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