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Wine with Seoul

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It may never top soju as Koreans' favorite drink, but wine is gaining terroir. Trend-obsessed Seoulites now regularly order Merlot in restaurants—practically every dining room serves it these days—and just last December a seven-story building devoted entirely to wine opened in the happening neighborhood of Apgujeong-dong. Podo Plaza (podo means grape) contains a bar, shop, and academy. "People love that this type of alcohol can be good for your health," says Podo Plaza's Jean Nam, linking the craze to yet another national obsession: well-being. A fitness club, however, this is not. Podo's biggest draw is the dim and sultry basement bar, Vin-ga, which serves around 750 varietals—the most prized bottle being an $8,000 1972 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti—as well as fusion dishes like samgyupsal jjim danhobak (grilled marinated pork with squash). Upstairs, on two floors, is Winetime, selling some 400 vintages, from ordinary table wine to an '85 Pétrus. And because Koreans are still learning their Syrah from their Grenache, the UK-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust is on hand to teach. At 634-1 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu; 82-2/3444-1756;


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