Importers cultivate wine market

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Importers cultivate wine market

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Wine. It’s exotic and enigmatic, but not meant for dinner every night. At least not in Korea, where this relatively new import is in many ways just getting started in the market.
Consumption of wine in Korea is increasing quickly, but remains a fraction of total alcohol consumed. At the 2005 International Wine Festival at SETEC in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul this weekend, foreigners hoping to market their wines in Korea agreed that the market still has a long way to go.
“[Koreans] are eating lots of beef, but they still don’t know how to match the wine with the food,” says Jeny Pop, who gave visitors a taste of Romanian wines like Vampire and Terra Dacica.
Another wine expert mused about which wines go best with Korean cuisine.
“To match Korean cooking, it’s very important to find wine with good elegance, with good tanniance, because it’s cooking with a great deal of spice,” said Bruno David, who represents a group of wineries in the Bordeaux region of France.
He described the Korean market as “very competitive” and a “good future market for wines.”
But he emphasized it was still in its infancy. “Wine consumption in Korea is 0.6 liters per capita, whereas in Japan it’s at least 3 liters. The norm in Europe is 25 liters, and in France and Spain it’s 46-47 liters.”
Sake van der Wal, who manned the South African Embassy booth, emphasized that no matter how much one reads, “at the end of the day you have to taste the wine, because in the wine you can taste the soil, you can taste the wildflowers, you can taste the atmosphere of winegrowing.”
The new festival was one opportunity for Korean wine-drinkers to do just that, and for foreigners to reminisce about the tastes of their homelands. Six embassy booths from South Africa, Canada, the United States, Romania, France and Israel joined Korean importers at the festival.


by Ben Applegate

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