The milky, off-white color….the deep, slightly bitter, mouth-watering taste…and the sweet finishing flavor….
Guess what it is? Yes, indeed, we are talking about “makgeolli” here, one of Korea’s representative traditional alcoholic beverages.
In line with the recent makgeolli boom, the first web site devoted solely to makgeolli (http://www.jurojuro.com) has been launched by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Korea Rice Foodstuffs Association.
“Juro” here refers to the journey of finding makgeolli and other tasty food along the road. It can also mean the longish table for placing liquor glasses, and by extension, the talk, laughter, and mingling among people taking place over a bowl of makgeolli.
According to the Ministry of Food, this year’s makgeolli market is estimated to be around USD 550 million worth of scale. And 60% of the market nation-wide is dominated by a handful of major makgeolli manufactures, while for the capital region, as much as 70% is taken up by them.
The fact is that smaller, lesser-known, local makgeolli companies are losing ground in the competition with the giant companies. In case of Gyeonggi-do area, for instance, all 40 companies but for mere two or three are facing a drop in sales ever since the makgeolli boom.
So the Ministry of Food decided to open the above-mentioned web site to introduce and promote small and medium-sized makgeolli manufacturers that each have their own distinct color and flavor.
The web site’s two main themes are makgeolli and makgeolli side-dishes. There is a “Navigation” section where you can search for various types of makgeolli either according to its region or characteristics, as well as view customer reviews and experts analyses. There is also the “Liquor Talk” section where the visitors of the web site engage in free chats.
But I’d say the highlight of the site is the “makgeolli side-dishes” page, which introduces places that have the best dishes to go with makgeolli. Just by looking at the pictures of all kinds of “anjoo (dishes served with liquor),” your mouth will start watering!
There are around 700 makgeolli manufacturers throughout Korea, and as in the case of wine, each region boasts its own distinct flavor. On the web site, you can search for specific kinds of makgeolli that you want – whether it’s live makgeolli or sterilized makgeolli, or whether it’s made with Korean rice, exported rice, or flour etc. So you can pick and choose a makgeolli that just suits your taste.