Vineworks: Interactive Wine Tasting in Seoul
When it comes to wine, Ian Ashworth is not only knowledgeable but he is super enthusiastic in making wine as approachable as possible and that’s why he founded Vineworks.
Ian and I met some years ago when we were extras in a film together and we were paired up as husband and wife and that’s where our story begins… Okay, there’s not much of a story. We walked back and forth for a couple hours and chatted it up on life and dreams in Korea while more famous actors did their lines again and again. Since I’ve known him, he’s been an avid wine geek always trying to share his passion for the libation with others and it was high time I attended a wine tasting hosted by him.
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Located near Sangsu Station in the popular Hongdae/Hapjeong area of Seoul, Vineworks is located in a chic white building and they host events on the fourth floor, fifth floor and they will soon be hosting events on the rooftop!
With a large table that everyone can sit around together to wine and dine as they listen to Ian talk at length about each wine and how to completely indulge in it, our group of misfits was able to partake, learn and dine together on his home-cooked dishes. From the seating to the activities, it’s in keeping with the aesthetic that he is not only a wine company but also a communications company.
Ian hopes to not only educate people on the wine they’re drinking, but he wants to do it in a communal way to allow everyone to have a fun interactive activity to explore cultures and eat home cooked meals together.
While some wine aficionados can be a bit snooty and wine itself is considered a chicer alcoholic beverage as it is, a big part of Ian’s events are centered on promoting wine in an attainable way. Anyone can drink wine and you can enjoy any wine be it the W7,000 stuff I was savoring at my birthday picnic this past weekend or the W65,000 bottle you buy for special occasions. I found his approach and the way he explained this especially appealing as I enjoy wine, but I really like that cheap “Australia Wine” from time to time… okay most of the time. Literally, it’s just labeled “Australia Wine”. And Ian says that is a-okay.
A Vineworks tasting is intimate but oh so fun. Ian provides in depth information for those of us that learn through listening, but he also provides activities such as a sniff test, a blind taste test and more so that those in attendance can really learn how to properly savor a wine. It’s not all that tough to get into the fun though. Ian explained that all you need to do is:
- Look at the wine and check the color but also check that there isn’t anything floating around in it. The first step has evolved over time to where people stare at their wine almost longingly, but you can imagine, that originally, people were just checking to make sure there wasn’t crud in their glass.
- Swirl the wine around and let it breathe. This releases the aromas in the wine glass that has been designed to do just that.
- Smell the quaff that comes off of the wine. Before we were released to smell our wines, Ian sent around bottles of other ingredients such as strawberries, leather, cinnamon and more so that we could test our sniffing acuity first. (Mine is not that great apparently!)
- Sip the wine. Let the wine rest on your tongue and then swallow it. Ian isn’t all about the sipping and spitting. We’re here to enjoy a drink in the comfort of the space so enjoy that drink.
For our tasting we sipped:
- Chispas – A Spanish sparkling wine in an Italian style
- La Peruga Rose – A popular bio-organic Italian rose
- La Peruga EOS – Another bio-organic wine from Veneto DOC in Northeast Italy
- Querceto Chianti
- Doppio Passo Primativo Puglia
Paired with the wines, we also indulged in:
- A vegetarian quiche made with Ashworth’s mom’s recipe
- Garlic Shrimp: Jordi from Barcelona’s Brothers favorite recipe
- A selection of cheeses and fruits
- Mogo‘s lentil filled homemade tacos. Mogo is “the healthy way to eat conveniently”. Free of artificial flavors, colors, and other additives, they ship ingredients right to your doorstep anywhere in Korea. (Get their Cincinnati Spaghetti or the tacos, you will NOT be disappointed. Also, as soon as you create an account on their site, you’ll get a FREE meal kit coupon in your inbox so the first meal is FREE! Gotta take them up on that offer.)
Most of his tastings are a 50/50 split between Koreans and foreigners that come to learn and he hosts not only fun tastings, but he also hosts business meeting tastings as well. Ian thinks that wine is proper for any kind of event and I couldn’t agree more. There’s a book club that regularly meets to drink and talk and events focused solely on the wining and dining.
Which tasting would you be most interested in attending? From regular weekly events to special weekend events, there is so much going on at Vineworks, something is sure to work with your schedule.
Every Tuesday: Spanish Evenings. Take a tour of Spain through wine.
Every Wednesday: Vegetarian & Biodynamic/Natural wine pairings.
Fridays Through The Month of April: French Fridays; From Burgandy to Bordeaux, learn more about the French wines.
First Rooftop Event: April 23, Vineworks will host a rooftop Braai BBQ to kickoff spring rooftop time!
The ambiance is on point, the food and drink are oh so delicious and it’s a learning opportunity as well as a community building activity. Sign up solo and meet some new folks or sign up with a friend or lover and enjoy a night out. You will NOT be sorry you did.
Mapo—gu Sangsu-dong 315-7 4f/5f
서울특별시 마포구 상수동 315-7
Opening hours: Event registration only, but regular “open bar” evenings and with the weather getting warmer, casual roof top evenings.