Elwood 5566

Would You Believe it – Mushroom Wine!

Posted in plants and trees by 노강호 on February 21, 2011

traditional pine mushroom wine (송이주)

Traditional mushroom wine might not sound very appealing but at less than 2000 Won (£1) a bottle, it’s worth a whirl. Actually, over the past three months I’ve been meaning to write this post, the bottles I’ve bought to photograph and sample, I’ve ended up drinking which is testament to the fact it can’t be that bad, especially considering I’m not much of a drinker.

pine mushroom emerging from under a bed of pine duff

The aroma is a combination of wine with a lurking invisible mushroom, which is pretty much what you might expect. Developing a taste for this wine probably lies in forgetting the main ingredient is mushroom as pondering on the taste can only evoke references to moldy bread and mushroom soup none of which do the drink any justice. Once you can put such associations aside, it develops its own appeal. At  13%  alcohol content, it is comparable to stronger European wines  but is sweet, though not excessively, rather than dry. I am not a wine connoisseur, and suspect a true wine buff might find it revolting but  it seems to grow on you without requiring you to be pissed in order to do so.


I don’t know if there are many types of Korean mushroom wine, as most places I have tried only have pine mushroom wine (송이 버섯). The pine mushroom, known is Japan where it is prized as the matsutake (tricholoma matsutake) is fairly common in Korea and grows under duff  in pine forests though the mushroom has symbiotic relationships with various other species of tree.

an interesting variation

The company Yangyang Minsok Doga, make an interesting variation using the pine mushroom and ‘deep sea water’ though the bottle looks more like a mineral water and I’m not sure what comprises ‘deep sea water.’

I’ve also discovered a splash or two makes an excellent addition to kalbi-tang (rib soup) and am wondering what other cooking uses I can put it to: sauteing meat or used as base to boil mussels?

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

Novelty Wine Recipes


5 Responses

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  1. Breda said, on February 24, 2011 at 12:45 am

    My friend once had some mushroom liquor that was pretty foul. I don’t recommend it!

    • Nick said, on February 24, 2011 at 1:29 am

      Not sure if they are the same. Actually the existence of mushroom wine quite intrigued a few Korean friends so even though you can buy it in E-Mart, it doesn’t seem mainstream. The wine is brilliant in cooking – I’m actually eating galbi-tang and the wine provides a suitable ‘fusion’ addition.

  2. Simon said, on February 24, 2011 at 7:44 am

    I tried the Song i ju before. Gross!

  3. Kate Black said, on April 30, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    Mushroom soju was everywhere when I was shopping in Pyongyang. I brought back 2 types, one that looks like the one above and a reishi one. They are gorgeous. My Korean is terrible although I can read they are soju so assumed they were infused soju rather than fermented mushrooms…

    • 노강호 said, on October 30, 2018 at 8:05 am

      Sorry for the late response – very late. I found mushroom wine rather strange but excellent for cooking.

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