My love affair with wine started when I had an amazingly complex Tuscan Chianti in Florence at a tiny little hole in the wall near the hostel I was staying at. It was a house wine but in Italy, even cheap wines seem to have a bit of magic. When I headed back to Tokyo after that particular life changing trip, my friend Jen and i would have late lunch dates and indulge in a
glass or two a bottle of wine at Sakura behind Roppongi station and I guess I haven’t stopped indulging in the stuff since…
Although my day drinking days are somewhat past me (ehem), I have found a few amazing spots for an after work drink in Seoul. I’m not much of a beer drinker and soju makes my tummy hurt so my poison of choice is generally wine or whiskey. The great thing about the wine boom in Korea is that there is definitely something for everyone when it comes to the choice of wine bars and I’ve decided to do a round up of the different ones I’ve been to on different occasions.
The Classy Joint
Located in the heart of the fancy Apgujeong district, Vin Ga’s atmosphere is cozy despite how large the space is. Their wine list is a behemoth with plenty of rare vintages for the wine connoisseur. Due to the location, I think the wines here cost a tad more than the other places and the clientele is a lot older with many businessmen indulging in the more expensive bottles. The last time I went the bartender mentioned that it gets quite packed on Fridays and Saturdays so it is probably best to make a reservation beforehand or shoot for a weekday. Great for dates or client dinners. The customer service is impeccable and the bar staff extremely knowledgeable.
B1 Podo Plaza
634-1 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
T: +82 2 516 1761
My Neighbourhood Spot
My go to spot is Sideways in Gangnam due to sheer proximity (it’s literally a ten minute walk from my place!) and the comfortable oversized leather couches where you can just sink in and relax. The proprietor Anthony isn’t always there but when he is will make some excellent recommendations based on how you like your wine. I had a tendency to go for juicy full bodied reds from either Spain or Italy and the Valduero he recommended (which is now unavailable because I bought and finished the eight remaining bottles) was excellent. Average cost of wine here will be approximately W80000 + 10% service charge. It’s not cheap but this is a great place to just chat and relax with good friends.
817-38 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu
T: 82 2 555 9925
(Up the alley by City Theater to top of the hill)
The Place with the Good Stuff
I discovered this place while wandering around looking for a place to eat. Located on a side street behind the Renaissance Hotel in Yeoksam-dong, YH Wine Cellar is the best bang for your buck. You choose a wine from their cellar and they bring the bottle to your table and uncork. I recently had an amazing juicy and complex red from Israel! (Yarden Merlot 2008 for those interested) and they carry a range of full bodied reds for a very affordable W50000 and up. The clientele is mostly comprised of office workers who head over after dinner for a light after meal meal. I always end up buying two or three bottles here as they carry most of my favourite from Napa, Spain and Italy and they have a bunch of wines you won’t find anywhere else.
YH Wine Cellar
672-33 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu
+82 2 564 1723
For the Trendsetters
Dulce y Suave just so happens to be a very conveniently located wine bar with a very random wine list and staff that don’t know very much about wine. They do offer a great selection of Argentine malbecs albeit at a slightly unreasonable price but I guess this is what you get when you’re in the uber trendy Garosugil area. Although it is a wine bar, I’d categorize it as more of a restaurant with an extensive wine list as it doesn’t meet my expectations when it comes to what I expect in terms of customer service, ambiance and comfort. That being said the space is large enough to accommodate big parties and from personal experience is great if you’ve already had a drink or two at brunch and would like another tipple.
Dulce y Suave
535-8 Sinsa-dong Gangnam-gu
T: 82 2 515 6750
Cutest Wine Bar in Seoul
Fox Wine Cellar near Hongdae is the cutest little spot. Cozy and inviting, it is date appropriate and great for a girl’s night out… if you’re the type of person that parties in Hongdae anyway. The wine list is what I’d call sensible – plenty of affordable wines with a few unexpected choices here and there. It is a little bit of a hassle as it is a good 15-20 minute walk from the Hongdae subway stop and you have to wade through a tsunami of people to get there but the actual area where the wine bar is located is low key and relaxed just like the bistro itself. I’m not usually a fan of white wines, usually opting for a light pinot noir on hot summer days, but they had a pretty tasty Terras Gauda from Spain there. That being said, they have more red wines than white and their wine by the glass is very reasonable also.
Fox Wine Cellar
2F 402-14 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu
T: 82 2 3143 7191