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Natural wines at Vinosn

Wine shop veteran on the charms of hip vintages

Vinosn, which opened its second location in Seoul’s Cheongdam-dong this May, specializes in natural wines and Grower Champagnes. (Vinosn)
Vinosn, which opened its second location in Seoul’s Cheongdam-dong this May, specializes in natural wines and Grower Champagnes. (Vinosn)

To curious passersby, Vinosn may look like a run-of-the-mill wine shop.

One step inside reveals this shop stocks exclusively natural wines and Grower Champagnes and that the owner, Agnes Kim, boasts over five years of experience and a dedicated passion for these increasingly hip and sought-after libations.

“Before natural wine was imported to Korea, I drank it abroad,” Kim, 49, said in an email interview, recalling how she first encountered this much-buzzed-about wine.

Then in 2015, she opened the first Vinosn location in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province, offering natural wine as well as organic and commercial wine.

While Kim is not certain when natural wine started to enter the South Korean market, she believes importers specializing in natural wine definitely started to appear in 2014.

Kim fully switched over to natural wine in 2016 as well as Grower Champagnes, which basically refers to Champagne crafted from grapes grown on vineyards owned by the producers themselves.

After racking up five years at the Pangyo location, Kim opened a second location in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul, in May.

At both locations one will find a dizzying selection of natural wine from elegant roses like the charming and effervescent Esprit Libre to tart reds and tongue-tingling carbonic wines.

To help newcomers navigate the potentially confusing terrain of natural wine, Kim asks about personal wine preferences before making a recommendation.

Of her own personal affinity for natural wine, Kim said, “The charms of natural wine are that one cannot easily guess what it will taste like.”

Kim went on to explain that she is attracted to the “unpredictable liveliness” of this style of wine.

Kim is not alone.

According to Kim, when she opened Vinosn in 2015, the natural wine market was incredibly small. Then about two years ago, natural wine bars and restaurants with natural wine lists started to proliferate and in 2018, the Korea-based natural wine fair, Salon O, saw a jump in the number of participants.

“Natural wine really got hot in 2019,” Kim said.

Now, natural wine is definitely trending.

So, what exactly is natural wine?

While not everyone agrees on one official definition, the overarching philosophy is that the wine is crafted with as little chemical or technical intervention as possible.

That translates to using organic or biodynamically grown grapes, little to no sulfites, natural yeasts, no additives, minimal to no filtration and the list goes on.

There are those who believe this approach is more eco-friendly and there are those who feel the reduction in or absence of sulfites and the organic and additive-free approach to wine can lead to fewer hangovers.

While Kim is careful not to make any conclusive remarks about this, she did say, “For me and for some of our customers there does seem to be a bit less of a hangover. However, since natural wine also has alcohol in it if one drinks a lot then one can get hungover.”

For Kim, however, the primary merit of natural wine seems to be the fun she derives from enjoying each unpredictable, ever-changing bottle and it is this that seems to have kept her in the business for over five years and counting. 

Vinosn, which opened its second location in Seoul’s Cheongdam-dong this May, specializes in natural wines and Grower Champagnes. (Vinosn)
Vinosn, which opened its second location in Seoul’s Cheongdam-dong this May, specializes in natural wines and Grower Champagnes. (Vinosn)

Vinosn Seoul Store

20-7 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
(02) 548-7717
Open 5-9 p.m. Tuesday, 1-9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 1-11 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday.

Vinosn Pangyo Store

562-5 Pangyo-dong, Bundang-gu, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi Province
(031) 8017-7717
Open 1-5 p.m. Sunday and 1-7 p.m. Monday; closed Tuesday through Saturday.

Official website: vinosn.com (Wine sets can be ordered online for in-store pick-up.)

By Jean Oh (oh_jean@heraldcorp.com)
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