Challenging Wine Pairing: Beef Bulgogi and Kimchi



By LaGayle ~ October 12th, 2011.

Each month when I post about one of our challenging wine pairing meals, I ask for suggestions for challenging wine pairings for us to try in the future. On several occasions, we have received requests to try Korean cuisine. While I had never prepared any Korean dishes, I decided to give it a try.

While researching Korean food and what wines to pair with it, I learned that it is often difficult to find wines that will pair well with these dishes. Korean dishes are usually high in acid, which can pose a challenge when trying to find wines that will work with them. As I started looking for wines that would go with Korean foods, I learned that most often white wines are chosen. However, since I decided to prepare a beef dish, I really wanted to find some red wines to pair with it.

Beef bulgogi is basically a marinated barbecued beef. Bulgogi means “fire meat” in Korean because it is cooked over an open flame. I marinated the meat and then cooked it on the grill. The meat and white rice were wrapped in a red leaf lettuce and served with a side dish of kimchi. Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish of fermented napa cabbage, radishes, green onions, and sometimes cucumbers. I was pleasantly surprised with the flavor of the kimchi; it was very good and spicy.

One of the guidelines for food and wine pairing is to go for a match. Since Korean cuisine is high in acid, we decided to pair the beef bulgogi and kimchi with red wines that were also high in acid. The two acids cancel each other out and all of the other flavors come forward. We selected the 2009 Owen Roe Sharecropper’s Pinot Noir from Oregon and the 2008 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti Le Orme Superiore from Italy. Both wines were excellent. Before we had any food, we especially enjoyed the Barbera; however, with the meal, the higher acidity in the Pinot Noir made it the consensus favorite as the best pairing.

We’d love for you to share in the comments what you would have paired with this meal. And, as always, we welcome your suggestions for challenging wine pairings for us to try in the future.

Bon Appétit!

2009 Owen Roe Sharecropper’s Pinot Noir (Oregon): Medium-deep ruby red in color. Aromatic with red fruit, perfume, and floral notes on the nose. Sour cherry, strawberry, and floral notes come through on the palate. Medium-bodied with tart acidity and soft tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish. Great with food.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle, Washington), $23.29; Available elsewhere, $20 to $32

2008 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti Le Orme Superiore (Barbera d’Asti DOCG, Piedmont, Italy): Medium-deep ruby red in color. Nice nose with earth and red fruit aromas. Fruit-forward with ripe red fruit, especially cherry and raspberry, earth, and black licorice on the palate. Medium-bodied with crisp acidity and medium, smooth tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle, Washington), $14.49; Available elsewhere, $12 to $14


Filed under: American Wine, Barbera, Challenging Wine Pairing, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Food & Wine, Oregon Wine, Pinot Noir, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

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