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Makgeolli (Korean: 막걸리, [mak.k͈ʌl.li]), sometimes anglicized to makkoli (//, MAK-ə-lee), is a Korean alcoholic beverage. The milky, creamy off-white, lightly sparkling rice wine with a slight viscosity tastes slightly sweet, tangy, bitter, and astringent, with chalky sediment that give the cloudy look. Having low proof, about six to nine percent alcohol by volume, it is often considered a happy, communal beverage. In Korea, makgeolli is often unpasteurized, which means the wine further matures in the bottle. Due to short shelf life of unpasteurized "draft" makgeolli, many exported makgeolli undergoes pasteurization, which deprives the beverage of complex enzymes and flavor compounds.
A bowl of makgeolli
|Country of origin||Korea|
|Alcohol by volume||6–9%|
The name makgeolli (막걸리) is a compound consisting of mak (막; "roughly, recklessly, carelessly") and a deverbal noun derived from the verb stem georeu- (거르-; "to strain, to sift, to filter") and a noun forming suffix -i (-이).
Being cloudy, makgeolli is also called takju (탁주; 濁酒), meaning "opaque wine", as opposed to the refined, transparent cheongju (청주; 淸酒), meaning "clear wine". Another name for makgeolli is nongju (농주; 農酒), which means "agricultural wine" or "farmer's wine", which was given because the beverage was popular among farmers.
In 2010, South Korean Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced that the winner of the selection for an English nickname of makgeolli was "drunken rice", with the five-member panel reasoning that foreigners would understand it is a type of liquor made from rice, and they may relate it popular Korean hip hop group Drunken Tiger which creates the image of representative Korean alcoholic beverage. "Makcohol" (makgeolli + alcohol) and "Markelixir" (makgeolli + elixir) were the runners-up. However, the Korean public gave a frosty reception, pointing out that the proper names like makgeolli need not be translated into English, and "drunken" conveys negative meaning.
In 2009, Korean importers in Japan started producing makgeolli products, attempting to promote them under the name makkori, the Japanese pronunciation of makgeolli. In 2011, Japanese sake companies such as Gekkeikan and Tatenokawa launched cloudy rice wines with the name makkori and announced their plans to export the products to Asia, America, and Europe. Concerns that this may lead people to mistakenly regard makgeolli as being traditionally Japanese rather than Korean, as in 1996 kimchi-kimuchi case, were raised in Korea.
Makgeolli is the oldest alcoholic beverage in Korea. The rice wine was brewed since Three Kingdoms era (1st century BCE – 7th century CE). In Jewang ungi (Ode on Emperors and Kings), a 13th century Goryeo Korean book, use of rice wine during the reign of King Dongmyeong (37–19 BCE) was mentioned in the founding story of Goguryeo. Other early records of rice wine in the Korean Peninsula include the section Garakguk gi (Record of the State of Garak) of the Goryeo Korean book Samguk yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms) mentioning the brewing of yorye (醪醴; "cloudy rice wine") in 661 in Silla for King Suro of Gaya by his seventeenth generation descendant, the section Dongyi (Eastern Foreigners) in the Wei Shu (Book of Wei) of the Jin Chinese book Sānguózhì (Records of the Three Kingdoms) mentioning "The Goguryeo Koreans are skilled in making fermented foods such as wine, soybean paste, and salted and fermented fish", the section Ōjin-tennō (Emperor Ōjin) of the Asuka Japanese book Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) mentioning a Baekje Korean named Inbeon (仁番) taught how to brew wine, and the poem Gōngzishí (公子時) by the Tang Chinese poet Li Shangyin mentioning Silla wine (新羅酒) made with non-glutinous rice. During the Goryeo dynasty, makgeolli was called ihwa-ju (이화주; 梨花酒, pear blossom alcohol), as the liquor was made during the blossoming of that particular flower. Many communities in Korea around that time enjoyed the tradition of drinking and dancing all night in special ceremonies.
Makgeolli was brewed at home for centuries, and considered a "farmer's wine" or a agricultural, working-class beverage. It was the most consumed alcohol in South Korea in the 1960s and 1970s, but it began to lose its popularity in the 1970s with the rise of imported alcoholic beverages. Government-enforced rice rationing in the period due to national food shortage also caused makgeolli to be made of barley and wheat instead of rice, which lead the rice wine's sales to plummet. As makgeolli was considered as cheap and old-fashioned, sellers focused on selling big quantities rather than quality control, with many makgeolli companies turned to mass production, with the rice wine brewed with non-traditional manufactured fermentation starter instead of traditonal nuruk, as well as diluted with water.
In the 21st century, makgeolli faced a resurgence in urban areas and with younger generations. Its health benefits, low alcohol proof, and a growing interest in cultural traditions in recent decades have added to the revival of makgeolli. The price continues to be inexpensive, a plastic, soft drink-style 750 ml (26 imp fl oz; 25 US fl oz) bottle being around ₩1,200 ($1.03). Nowadays, novelty high-end makgeolli made with traditional methods without artificial additives are also produced, in at least 700 small scale breweries existing in South Korea in 2017.
Makgeolli is made from rice and with nuruk, a Korean fermentation starter. Nuruk, the dry, molded cereal cake, produces hydrolysable enzymes, decomposing macromolecules to monomers for yeast growth, which means the yeast fungi feed on the sugars created by saccharification of rice starch and turns them into alcohol. Different kinds of nuruk, made with different ingredients such as rice, wheat, barley, or mung beans, produces makgeolli with different flavour.
Steamed rice, nuruk, and sometimes additional flavouring ingredients such as corn, chestnuts, fruits, herbs, and flowers are mixed and let ferment in onggi, the same permeable clay crocks used for making kimchi, soy sauce, and other fermented foods.
The brewing process has two steps: seed and main mash and main fermentation. Seed mash is the process of obtaining actively-growing yeasts and enzymes in the mixture of yeast and nuruk. The main mash acquire tastes and aromas from the transformation of nutrients and amino acids derived from the rice. Main fermentation lasts for about a week.
Makgeolli is best consumed fresh, a week or two after being brewed. When freshly brewed, it is milder and creamier. It gets stronger taste over time, and becomes rice vinegar after a couple of months.
Many mass-produced makgeolli are brewed with non-traditional manufactured fermentation starter instead of traditonal nuruk, diluted with water, and with additives such as aspartame, which gives sweetness without adding a fermentable carbohydrate and thus increases shelf life. Flavorings such as fruit and ginseng are also sometimes added. These drinks are inexpensive, a 750 ml (26 imp fl oz; 25 US fl oz) around ₩1,200 ($1.03). They are most commonly available in plastic, soft drink-style bottles or aseptic box containers.
High-end makgeolli made with traditional methods without artificial additives are also produced, in at least 700 small scale breweries existing in South Korea in 2017.
|2005||166,319 kL (5,873,500 cu ft)|
|2006||170,165 kL (6,009,300 cu ft)|
|2007||172,342 kL (6,086,200 cu ft)|
|2008||176,398 kL (6,229,400 cu ft)|
|2009||260,694 kL (9,206,300 cu ft)|
|2010||412,269 kL (14,559,100 cu ft)|
|2011||458,198 kL (16,181,100 cu ft)|
|2012||448,046 kL (15,822,600 cu ft)|
|2013||426,216 kL (15,051,700 cu ft)|
|2014||430,896 kL (15,216,900 cu ft)|
|2015||416,046 kL (14,692,500 cu ft)|
Makgeolli is usually served chilled, in a bottle or a pottery bowl with a ladle. It is stirred with ladle, or in case of a bottle gently flipped upside down several times with the cap on, to mix in settled cloudy sediment, It is then ladled or poured into, and drunk from, individual small bowls, rather than cups, because makgeolli is often divided into cloudy white portion tends settle to the bottom and pale yellow-clear liquid on top.
Mageolli is often served with fried pancakes such as pajeon (made with scallions), haemul-panjeon (made with scallions and seafood), and bindae-tteok (made with mung beans and pork). Makgeolli with those pancakes are often associated with, and consumed on, rainy days.
Makgeolli can also mixed with fruits such as mango and pineapple, and ice to make fruit cocktail, or with saida (lemon-lime drink) to make a simple cocktail named maksa. Makgeolli mixed with kkul (honey) is called kkul-makgeolli.
Due to the microorganisms present during fermentation, makgeolli is probiotic with high levels of lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus as well as vitamins, amino acids, and fiber. Containing 1.9 percent protein, over 10 amino acids, vitamin B, inositol and choline, makgeolli is reported to increase metabolism, relieve fatigue and improve the complexion.
Dongdong-ju ("float-float wine") is a drink very similar to makgeolli, but is slightly-creamier with unfiltered rice grains floating. The word dongdong is an ideophone for a small object floating by. Ihwa-ju ("pear-blossom wine") is so named because it is brewed from rice with rice malt which ferments during the pear-blossom season. Ihwaju is often so thick that it is eaten with a spoon. Dansul ("sweet wine") is a sweeter variety with partial fermentation.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Makgeolli.|
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