Rice Wine Shenanigans in Seoul

Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Featured, Food, Foodie Tuesday, Korea, Korea | 6 comments

Okay, I could have called this post “Makgeolli Making in Seoul”, but unless you have been to Korea chances are you wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about. Besides, I think shenanigans gives it a very fun vibe, which it was. Sit back, relax and let me tell you about my little adventure into the world of Korean wine making.


Korean Traditional Rice Wince


Koreans refer to rice wine as makgeolli, and it’s both popular and cheap. You’ll find it sold in any convenience store. A 750 ml bottle will set you back less than $1.50 US; alcohol content ranges between 7 and 8 percent, and sometimes a little higher. In recent years Korea has been trying to peddle market makegolli overseas, as a health drink. However, one of the challenges is that it can go off rather quickly. Here, there are only a couple of mass producers. Most makegolli is very regional and the taste can vary from region to region.

Classes are offered at the Susubori Academy, and I found it through a group called Magegolli Mamas and Papas. Our hosts and teachers for the event were brew masters Becca and Daniel.


Introduction to Makgeolli


We began with the all important taste testing. Each sample was from a different company, and as we sipped we rated them on color, aroma, mouth feel, flavor, and aftertaste. Flavors ranged from fruity to cream cheese and birthday cake. After taste ranged from astringent to lingering.


Makgeolli Tasting


Now it was down to the business of making our own award winning brew!

Our recipe for the day was Danyangju, which means that the brew ferments once, and the fermentation time is one week.

Danyangju Recipe

1 kg sticky rice (uncooked weight)

90g of Nuruk

1 L water

3g yeast

I don’t have a photo of the Nuruk, but it looks like a gray disk about 8 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick. Nuruk consists of micro-organisms, lacto bacillus and mold (enzymes). Doesn’t that sound yummy?! But, it is important for the fermentation process.


The sticky rice was steamed and waiting. Still hot, so we needed to cool it down.


Cooked sticky rice



Now we needed to get the rice into our brewing jug. It was important to weigh out the exact amount. 1 kg of uncooked rice = 1.45 cooked rice.


Maggeolli making



Then we added the other ingredients, and the fun began. The rice needs to absorb all of the water, and the absolute best way to do this is to get a little messy 🙂


Mixing the Makgeolli



About 10 minutes later I was ready to put the cap on my brew jug and head to the train station for the trip home. We were warned not to put the cap on too tight. Can you guess why?





A week later, the finished product! My makgeolli was smooth, with a bit of a tangy after taste.  Usually served in a short, round, pottery cup. Hey, in a pinch, a wine glass always  works.


My makgeoli


If you’re in Seoul and interested in becoming  a makgeolli brewer, contact Dan at [email protected] or Becca at [email protected] The cost of the 3 hour class is a very affordable W40,000. You only want to drink? Check out  Magegolli Mamas and Papas for recommended makgeolli  bars around Seoul.

Susubori Academy Website (in Korean)

Have you ever tried makgeolli? What did you think?

Linking up to Foodie Tuesday, hosted by Marcia at Inside Journeys

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  1. What an intersting-sounding drink. How crazy that it can taste so different from fruity to cream cheese and birthday cake. It sounds like a ready-made cocktail and not like the rice wine I’ve tried in Vietnam and China.

    • Phoebe…the taste really does vary from region to region. I don’t remember trying the rice wine in Vietnam or China. Next time!

  2. We have a theme going here — someone else posted the recipe for making an elderflower cordial.

    You guys seem to be having a lot of fun in class. That’s an interesting name for rice wine. It looks a bit like egg nog or runny condensed milk.

    I assume if you put the cap on too tightly, it would explode. Am I correct?

    Thanks for linking up this week, Nancie. See you on Thursday! My niece got married on Friday so it was a crazy week. I tried to get my post ready before the rush started but that didn’t happen.

    • Marcia.,,you are right! It could explode. I’m the host and I have yet to begin my post for tomorrow…yikes!

  3. Nancie, I never tried to make rice wine while I was living in Daegu, but I did try to drink some of it. Can’t say it was my favorite! Love this kind of thing!

    • Hi Corrine! I didn’t know you lived in Daegu. I’ve almost moved there a couple of times, but for one reason or another never happened. I’ve had good Makgeolli and not so good. Really depends on who is doing the brewing!

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