Wine education Gangnam style

Korean wine classroom

Korean wine classroom (Photo: Bob Campbell MW)

I’m in Seoul where my main mission is to run a one-day course on New Zealand wine mainly for wine professionals. The majority of students are wine educators. If they pass the exam they will be able to teach students about New Zealand wine with the assistance of course materials in Korean provided by NZ Winegrowers.

The lecture and exam are held in the very well-equipped premises of the Wine & Spirit Academy situated in the affluent Gangnam district. It’s hardly worth mentioning that the Gangnam district was made famous by South Korea musician, Psy, who produced the world’s most watched video, Gangnam Style. I’m curious to see whether the use of the neologism (look it up) “Gangnam Style” will increase the number of people who read this blog.

The 26 students, including a wine professor, were an impressive lot. If any fail to pass the exam it will not be through a lack wine knowledge. Although the lecture was in English, the course notes were in Korean and an interpreter was available for questions and answers.

The lecture was supported by a tasting of 14 wines. I invited the class to vote on a favourite in each flight, although abandoned the practice after noting that some students felt uncomfortable when asked to choose a preferred wine. However, the class vote clearly indicated a preference for more “traditional” Marlborough sauvignon blanc over an oak-aged and slightly funky sample. Similarly, they chose a “big and buttery” chardonnay style ahead of a sleeker and more “modern” example.

That result made me wonder whether wine producers need to take a stylistic step back when choosing wines for less sophisticated markets.

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