Philippe Melka

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The Birth of a Wine Culture in South Korea

How do you create a wine culture where none exists? South Koreans have had a long history of a drinking culture, favoring Soju, a distilled spirit similar to vodka but very cheap.  Wine was not on the table, not even in five star restaurants or hotels as recently as the 1990s. That didn’t deter Hi Sang Lee.  He is a very patient man. He wanted to share his newly found love of fine wine with friends in Korea.  Lee’s wine moment happened on a ski trip with friends in Stowe, Vermont.  Up to this point Lee really wasn’t a drinker.  One of his wine loving friends opened some good French wine.  “It was like paradise,” Lee says, and the wine bug bit.  He began buying wine, storing it in a friend’s basement.  But he had a problem.  How to get it back home to South Korea? “So I started a…

Don’t Drink That Drink This! 6 Go-To White Wines That Are Anything But Chardonnay

How Chardonnay remains the most popular white wine sold in America is a mystery to me.  Maybe because it is easier to pronounce or remember?  At least some California winemakers  are now showing restraint and instead of using lots of new oak they’re making unoaked wines instead.  I just had a yummy Chard which was crisp with apple and citrus from Chamisal Vineyards in the Central Coast called Stainless Chardonnay.  This bright vibrant wine is totally unoaked, very nice for sipping.

I’ll admit it, Chardonnay gets more than its share of bad raps.  People are proud to say he or she is an ABC drinker – Anything But Chardonnay that is.  So what’s the alternative?  Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are options, but sometimes I want something richer and creamier than a zippy Sauv Blanc or citrusy Pinot Grigio.  Thank goodness for the white Rhone varieties grown in California that make wines memorable enough to compete with Chardonnay and even best it.  You may even agree with me that the white Rhones are so much more complex and interesting.