Rice Wine

Korean and Japanese rice wines are traditional East Asian wines, but because they are not made from grapes, they are very different from Western wines and tend towards being only mildly sweet. Rice wines contain many nutrients, proteins, and amino acids that help lower the alcohol level, as compared to other wines. Traditionally, rice wines were often drunk by farmers for their ability to offer health benefits while quenching thirst. Japanese sake is the most well-known variety of rice wine.

Rice wines are made differently than grape wine because rice is not as sweet as grapes so the starch from the rice must first be converted to sugars. The process is almost the same way beer is made, only without the mash process.

Among Korean rice wines, the cloudy variety is called Nongjuor Makgeolli, which comes from the Korean word nong, meaning farmer. The history of rice wine in Korea can trace back to around the 4th century. Many of the oldest peoples in Korea drank rice wines which are stored in traditional clay pots called Toggi. Toggi are unglazed vessels made by Korean artisans for wine production. Because these pots allow air to enter, the wine ferments slowly. More recent pottery techniques have led to the production of glazed vessels called Onggi, which allows the wine to ferment differently. We recommend paying special attention to the vessels used in the production of rice wines. Korean companies like E-Dong are still producing wine in the traditional way. Some of these wines include Bek Se Ju, Woorisul, and Tok Tak sparkling wine.

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