Seoul's take on natural wine is faster and more vibrant than anywhere else, and it has just begun. Here's where to drink and experience Seoul's pioneering, effortlessly cool natural wine bars.
BAR BIG LIGHTS
Proudly one of Seoul's first natural wine bars, Bar Big Lights is the epicenter of rare and exclusive bottles. It's a playground for serious natural wine drinkers, where the genius food pairing is always the talk of town. The place is strictly reservation based, so if you're new in town, send an Instagram DM @barbiglights_seoul and hope for some luck at scoring an opening.
Ever paired spice-centric Thai food with luscious Jura wines? Soi Mao is the sister bar of Soi Yeonnam/Hannam and Tuk Tuk Noodle Thai - the infamous Thai restaurants that garnered much fame with authentic flavors. The delicious dishes are just the side-kick to the vast natural wines offered here. Exclusive bottles in the likes of Sylvain Saux Blanc can be found just here, and a pretty good list of Jura wines is given as options to pair with the strong flavored dishes. @soi_mao
Yeonnam-dong’s favorite chef relocated his natural wine bar to the southern part of the river. His Mirror 2.0 is brighter, cozier and nicely minimalist that you get to focus on the food and wines. The menu changes constantly with an emphasis on seasonal produce. There’s no wine list and seating is at the bar only - so communicate and get recommended. @mirror_seoul
Low hanging chandeliers and the long table transports you out of Seoul. Mind you, you have to seat side-by-side not in front of one another - yes, the intimacy is real. Other than the standoff-ish atmosphere, the longest, largest wine list (thanks to its affiliation to Michelin-starred Zero Complex being its sister living upstairs), and the reasonable price breaking barriers is Bar Piknic's forté. But those who enjoy the place cannot deny their fandom to the best tapas menus with the flavors always spot on. @barpiknic
Unadorned concrete walls and floor-to-ceiling windows give off a surreal ambiance that is cool in style and temperature. The place offers specialty coffee during the daytime alongside Japanese modern bonsai from Sinajina. At night (also available by the glass all day long), don't mind the echoing walls and stiff chairs, because this is where you can get exclusive wines imported by the owners. @etcetera_seoul
Quite the cinematic effect in this neoteric, dim lit atmosphere. The chef has notable experience at Paris' Le Chateaubriand and Seoul's Zero Complex, testing new menus on a monthly basis. The Cheongdam-dong location and the chic interior might come off as "too posh", but the wine list is anything but. Once you sit down, the place is comforting and without panache. @6_3seoul
GEUM NAM VIN
At Geumnam-Vin, experience natural wine paired with Korean food. The menu is homey and in the style of anjoo (nibbles while you drink). While a bowl of rice may be missing, it still works perfectly as meal for dinner. Daily banchan made of seasonal produce (namul) is handed out as if Western bars will pass around peanuts or pretzels. The intended atmosphere is laid-back and friendly, but there an evident chicness that makes the place extra. In the end, finding out the owner opened this place for the love of wine - that’s all you need to hear and the rest is a blissful experience. @geumnam_vin
The best kind of bar is the kind opened by someone who has such an affinity for natural wines, they decide to open one for themselves. The name might give off the image of a vinegar bar, but rather, it takes the best of what we like in these wines - the acidity, and pairs it with well thought out dishes. You'll never guess how well avocado can be used in dishes and their fried chicken wins any other. A place by someone who clearly has a refined taste for the wines - it’s dim-lit, it’s friendly, it’s the next best thing. @lacidite_seoul
Seongsu-dong is home to numerous skateboard cool natural wine spots, and TBD is leading the place with its incredibly bold dishes as opposed to the minimally cool interior. The best part about TBD is that they don't pretend to be experts at natural wines. They know how to suggest and explain the ones they've tried and liked, paired with the dishes prepared. @tbd_kr
In a quiet, secluded street overlooking Yangjaechun is a bar run by one person who splits seconds taking orders, cooking, pouring wine and conversing with guests. The list is solid and the price is almost best in town, it's impossible to leave the place without ordering multiple bottles. The food is tapas-sized and more of an accompagnement to the wines than a hearty meal. @dogokokk
Be ready to enter a cave. Inspired by La Dive Bouteille and the OG European wine cellars, Detachment recreated this cave atmosphere with installation art using tracing papers. The food is in form of a course menu that you can order à la carte, but it’s worth seeking out everything from top to bottom and reorder what you liked best. The place duals as a specialty coffee place by day and natural wine bar by night, run by someone who has been an avid drinker of natural wines with killer taste. @detachment_seoul