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Red wine for Kimchi?

Kimchi, the quintessential Korean sidedish has really strong flavor and aroma. It is very spicy - though there are not-so-hot varieties -, and has strong smell due to the fermentation and the ingredients like garlics, fermented fishes and seafood, and chilli powder.

It is quite challenging to pair a wine, especially red one with Korean food mainly thanks to Kimchi's strong flavor.

A few months ago, a Japanese manga writer, Tadashi Agi paired Kimchi with Librandi Gravello 2001 from Calabria, Italy (a blend of 60% Gaglioppo and 40% CS). According to Tadashi Agi, Librandi Gravello matches well with spiciness of Kimchi, since Gaglioppo grapes are grown in Calabria, where red hot peppers are also cultivated.

Well, which red wine would you pair with Kimchi?

FYI, the manga series <Drops of God>, written by Tadashi Agi and drawn by Shu Okimoto, is soooo popular in Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong that the wines mentioned in the manga were SOLD OUT and their prices soared at least 30% upward in these countries.

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  1. Not many red wines I'd want to drink with kimchee, but I think Lambrusco is one that might be interesting.

    1. riesling with some red food coloring in it :)

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chicago Mike

        I think a really cheap riesling is about the only wine I'd even consider with kimchi. The operative word here is "cheap". I would not waste good money on wine for kimchi. I adore kimchi, and I adore wine, but not together.

        If I was trying to have wine with a Korean meal, I'd probably employ my Type A wine tasting sandwich technique, and drink the wine in between bites of the most wine friendly food in the meal (likely the meat: bulgogi or kalbi). Kimchi, rice, meat wine meat rice kimchi repeat cycle. Any cheap red you want. Don't open a very nice bottle...

        But I'd much rather swig back shots of soju, or straight vodka, or beer if you like beer.

        1. re: moh

          Totally agree.
          I would not waste any of my good bottles to drink with Kimchi.

      2. I rather have a beer with Kimchi. :P

        If you reallly looking for red, some odd local varietals blend from Spain (e.g. bobal, or Rias Baixas red) or Italy (Trentino Alto region) might work.

        1. Why not go with a sparkling wine.. Why Red?

          1. beer would be my first choice. if pressed for a wine, i might consider an italian white. something like a tocai. i lived in south korea for three years and the place still puzzles me.

            1. I have actually met success with Kimchi and a zweigelt from Austria. I think the key here is acid and youth and no oak. The acid in the wine will combat the "pickled"/fermented flavors. You need the youth for more fruit to handle the chili and spices. And oak would wash away the "clean" nature of the kimchi. So the rare pinot noir from Alsace (hard to find here in the US) could work as well. I would think some Northern Italian reds could work but it is pretty tough to give a generalization for an Italian wine pairing. It would have to pair with a specific wine. If you wanted to experiment start with a Dolcetto. It is a real workhorse, the right amount of tannins... acid and fruit will vary making it a challenging pairing.

              Safe bets: beer, Alsatian Riesling or Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris

              1. Recently I've tried Kimchi with South Austalian - Kay Brothers Amery Vineyards Shiraz 2006. The strong aroma and taste of shiraz made a great pair with the spicy Korean dish.

                1 Reply
                1. re: proptrade1

                  I'd go with a sparkling Shiraz....say Magella's

                2. lacrima di morro d'alba. or how about a hybrid like baco noir? both foxy and funky

                  1. Sometimes wine is not the best pairing for a particular food. I would say that this best pairing is a lager.

                    FYI, Consumption of TNT turns urine amber or deep red, which people often mistake for blood.

                    1. Beer, soju, or makgeolli are my first choices. Personally, I can't wrap my mind around drinking a traditional wine with kimchi. My tongue is in spasms trying to imagine a wine with kimchi. :)

                      1. I picked up a nice medoc today that I had at a tasting. I brought it to our local Korean BBQ for dinner tonight. It didn't work for us. All the wonderful earthy, mushroomy, slightly funky notes of the wine were virtually undetectable with the kimchi.