Pair wine with Korean barbecue

Eating Korean barbecue truly feels like sitting down at a king’s feast. The spread of multiple plates toppling with bulgogi (marinated grilled beef) and pajori (spicy scallion salad) will leave you rolling from the table to your bed. When it comes to Korean barbecue, wine isn’t a traditional pairing. However, everything from the varied textures (meat, kimchi, fish, oh my!) to the intense flavors begs for a drink. Plus, which royal banquet is devoid of booze? Try these five suggestions.

1. Soju

Pair soju with Korean barbecue
Image via Flickr / Graham Hills

Soju is relatively inexpensive, making it one of Korea’s most popular beverages. Like vodka, it’s colorless. It also has a very sharp flavor. While on its own such a strong taste might be objectionable, soju is ideal to zap right through the hearty flavors of marinated, charr-flecked beef and pork.

2. Maesil ju (Korean Plum Wine)

Drink plum wine with Korean barbecue

Maesil ju is actually a plum liqueur. It’s made out of maesil green plums, honey, and soju. Maesil ju is a nice, sweet aperitif to pair with the many veggie banchan, side dishes, in a Korean barbecue feast.

3. Sake

Drink sake with Korean barbecueAlso commonly known as “rice wine,” sake is actually brewed, making it closer to rice beer. There are several varieties of sake to choose from – they’re usually classified by the degree to which the rice has been polished and now much brewer’s yeast was added – but many of them share the same cleansing property. Sake goes particularly well with kimchi, pickled cabbage.

4. Makgeolli (Korean Rice Wine)

Drink wine with Korean barbecue
Image via Flickr / Republic of Korea

Makgeolli is low in alcohol, available in plastic bottles, and tastes sweet. Unfiltered and milky, you might find Makgeolli to overwhelm your palate when combined with all that meat. However, have you ever had dessert, then suddenly felt invigorated to keep on eating? That’s what makgeolli will do for you.

5 . Bokbunja ju (Korean Blackberry Wine)

Drink wine with Korean barbecueThis fruit wine, which is just the slightest bit sweet and fairly alcoholic (between 15-19% ABV) has been said to increase virility. If that wasn’t reason enough to have a sip of the dark wine, we can’t help you. After a meal of Korean barbecue, you might be stuffed. Instead of dessert, opt for a glass of bokbunja ju. Cheers!