It’s no secret that Australians love good wine. Bottle shops are giant warehouses with every grape varietal imaginable with some bottles cheaper than a can of coke. But Australians are also focused on discovering delicious foods, priming the perfect market for the annual Good Food and Wine Show.
The Good Food and Wine Show is held every year in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, with the aim of bringing quality producers both small and large to an eager Australian consumer market. Think cheese, cured meats and tumeric lattes side by side with entire booths dedicated to the many wine regions of Australia. And tastings. Think lots of tastings.
As a part of this show, The Korean Cultural Center of Sydney also exhibits the many wonders of Korean cuisine to an increasingly curious local palate. Each year the KCC puts together an excellent showing of kimchi varieties, fermented sauces and other uniquely Korean edibles to a hungry audience. However, this year, the KCC took on a much grander objective: Masterclasses for the Masses.
In addition to an information booth providing tastings and consultations for those looking to expand their knowledge of Korean cuisine, the KCC offered three different classes which could be taken over the course of the three-day show. A class focused on Kimchi, a class focused on fermented pastes and sauces, and, of course, a class focused on Sool.
The Sool Company was invited to teach a total of six Masterclasses throughout the show, giving eager GFWS attendees a chance to ferment their own ‘wonju’ (original alcohol from fermentation) at home. In a bustling and newly built Sydney Convention Center, we taught the Danyangju – Single stage fermentation recipe – with nuruk brought in specially from Korea. Armed with their plastic gloves and individual jars, things got hands-on as class takers got enthusiastically mixing what would soon become their very own booze.
In the downtime between classes, we also offered tastings of representative makgeolli, cheongju and soju that can be accessed locally in Australia. As many of our dedicated sool lovers will be aware, the best makgeolli and cheongju are always enjoyed fresh and unpasteurized which makes importing extremely difficult. However most people were pleasantly surprised at how much they enjoyed each alcohol with the overwhelming favourite being the cheongju. Many curious tasters likened the style of alcohol to a sherry or dessert wine for its sweet yet fruity character.
Overall it was an exhausting but invigorating show and reflecting on it now- after some recovery time- extremely encouraging. The concept of fermentation, Korean foods and alcohols was heartily embraced by many attendees and proved that the future of Korean cuisine and alcohol industry in Australia is bright.
Naturally, I would like to thank the Korean Cultural Center in Sydney without whom we would not have this amazing platform to communicate Korean food and drinks. Their vision, understanding and above all incredible professionalism and support make working to promote sool in Australia an absolute joy. Until next time!
Julia is an Australian specialist in Korean Traditional Alcohol and has been involved in the makgeolli industry for over 6 years. She has been an activist for the promotion of Korean sool both locally and internationally after training at a number of institutes including Grand Master Park Rok Dam.