Did you know there’s an annual wine expo in Seoul? Did you know that at w25,000 for a badge that’s good for five hours of wine tasting, it’s the cheapest glass of wine you’ll find in the whole friggin’ city? Now you do.
Asia is the new hot shit in terms of emerging wine markets. If you find yourself in Seoul during the annual Wine & Spirit show, be sure to buy a badge and treat yourself to a few hours of wine tasting! Wines from all over the world are showcased alongside sake, whiskey, and Korea’s own soju. Surprisingly, I didn’t see any New Zealand wineries represented. New Zealand–what gives!?
I didn’t find the event to be particularly crowded for something taking place in the second busiest city in the world. We arrived about an hour and a half after doors opened, bought our badges, and walked inside in about five minutes! You can purchase an advanced badge for a bit of a discount through the website in the weeks leading up to the event as well. And, if you are a blogger or host your own wine tastings at a local restaurant like yours truly, there’s the possibility you can get a Press or Buyer badge for free. (Just make sure you get off your lazy butt and sign up for it well in advance…)
Another bit of advice; eat before you go! Food is not offered inside the event area.
My favorite wines included the sparkling organic wines from French winery Vins Nature, many of the red wine blends from Israeli winery Binyamina, and the Gramona III Lustros Gran Reserva 2005 that the Spanish Embassy was so generously pouring. We managed to get the last few sips from the final bottle.
If you’re a lover of wine who frequents these events, you know that most people are there to get a little tipsy at a good price. Sometimes I find this is an excellent time to talk to winemakers as they’re grateful to chat with folks who appreciate the craft a bit more–especially when they’re pouring in a country where most people don’t speak their language beyond a few words and a smile.
Most of the stands were not offering their bottles for sale, but Binyamina was–at steep discounts that had my friend snagging up six bottles and a seventh for us to sit and drink in an empty whiskey booth. Wine is super expensive in Korea, so if you find a deal like that at the festival, take it!
To get to the festival, head to the COEX building in Gangnam by bus or subway. By subway, it’s a bit of a trek through the cavernous convention center to find the right room, but staff are on hand with good English skills to point the confused in the correct direction. Don’t worry if you get lost in COEX–it happens to the best of us, despite how many times we’ve been there.