‘Rice Wine’ or ‘Rice Beer’?

The debate wages on. When describing makgeolli for the first time to people who have never tried it before, it can be a real challenge to really get it across. The words we usually use are milky, sour, sweet, thick, carbonated….which to someone who has never tried makgeoli before might think it’s like expired drinking yoghurt. We are working on that!

But the question on many makgeolli lovers lips these days, is do we call it ‘Rice Wine’ or ‘Rice Beer’ in English? Rice wine conjours up images of sake or soju, some sort of clear potent liquor. Whereas Rice Beer seems to be something so foreign, that the words just don’t seem to go together. The argument for rice beer is makgeolli’s low percentage of alcohol, brewing process, and the way it is consumed these days. But is that really what makgeolli is definitionally speaking?

The Makgeolli Diaries sheds some light on the matter with a great post incorporating the history and evolution of makgeolli from day one to present kettle. Check out the article here and make up your own mind.

Weigh in on our own poll to see what you Mamas & Papas think at our facebook page. Rice Wine, Rice Beer….or just Makgeolli?

What do you think? Should makgeolli be called Rice Wine or Rice Beer? Comment away and tell us why!


3 thoughts on “‘Rice Wine’ or ‘Rice Beer’?

  1. Makgeolli is apparently the only straight-forward answer. neither wine, nor beer, are in any way adequate terms for such a beverage. in my opinion those words only serve to add confusion to an already confusing topic. While these may seem like helpful words, they also carry their own connotations that will create biases in potential customers who are averted them. i really don’t think being fond of wine or beer, indicates that you will be fond of makgeolli.

    1. We entirely agree. Both terms do not really reflect what makgeolli is and can give it a confusing image. We like the idea of just calling makgeolli ‘Makgeolli’….but it still doesnt solve the problem of explaining its uniquities to first timers 😉

  2. I agree with Dave. Both bear and wine are mostly yeast based. Many maks have ~10s to 100s of filimentous fungi involved … quite a different beast.

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