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Bokbunja, a Raspberry Wine

13 Jul

Bokbunja (pronounced bock-boon-jar) is a Korean dessert wine that is served chilled. It is more correctly called bokbunja-joo, ‘joo’ meaning wine, but many people go with the shorter name. While it has been around for centuries in Korea, it is relatively new to the international wine scene. It comes in a deep ruby colour and I would loosely describe its taste as a cross between Port and the Ribena blackcurrant drink. The alcohol content varies by bottler and is typically somewhere between 14-16%, actually quite low by Korean standards. In anycase, if you are using it for cooking, the alcohol will all evaporate anyway. According to tradition this wine is supposed to improve libido but we won’t get into that here. The interesting thing about Bokbunja is that its not fermented from grapes. Its vintners uses thorny black raspberries as the main ingredient. Your eyes may tell you you have a red or fortified wine in front of you, but its aroma and taste will tell you otherwise.

As I always say, experimenting with new tastes for the kitchen is always good. This raspberry wine is relatively sweet; not as sweet as ice wine or a sauterne, but sweeter than say a sherry or madeira. It makes an excellent after-dinner drink if you are serving cheese or dark chocolate. You can also use it as a chaser for dishes that already use it as an ingredient, which brings me to the cooking part…

Another brand, launched to commemorate the 2002 Korea World Cup

As Bokbunja is naturally sweet and relatively inexpensive, you can substitute it for red wine in many dessert recipes. Poached pears in ‘wine’ is a good example, and you can also try marinating raisins or cherries in it.   You don’t have to limit yourself to sweet dishes. If your recipe calls for a red wine reduction sauce, you can try using Bokbunja for a twist. Also, if it is appropriate to add some sherry or port as a final layer of flavouring to a soup, such as in the case of onion soup, or to a sauce, as in the case beef stroganoff, you can experiment with a dash of Bokbunja instead. You will definitely be asked what your ‘secret weapon is. In all cases be mindful that this is a dessert wine and reduce the sugar content a bit from another part of your recipe. More information on Bokbunja 

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7 Comments

Posted by on July 13, 2011 in Ingredients, Oriental

 

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7 responses to “Bokbunja, a Raspberry Wine

  1. schaperow

    September 21, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Very nice site. As for this page, there is one error. Bokbunja is not made from thorny black raspberries, but rather Korean black raspberries. They are different species entirely, with Bokbunja using Rubus coreanus. So, a different species entirely with different flavor characteristics.

    If interested in my cooking w/very unique ingredients, check out foraging.posterous.com. Otherwise, see the ingredients at my google site.

    Sam Schaperow, B.S., M.S.
    Human Development Scientist and Forager

     
  2. caro

    November 19, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Thanks for the information, I just found out about this wine. I noticed you spelled the pronounciation wrong though. The prounciation isn’t bock-boon-jar. It’s beok boon ja. Definitely doesn’t have an r sound at the end.

     
    • kobayash1

      November 19, 2012 at 6:08 pm

      You are right about the pronunciation of course and I won’t argue with someone who (presumably) speaks Korean. Thank you very much for pointing it out.

      In my defense, I was just going for an approximation using existing English words since all vowels in English have two pronunciations (eg. Ja in Jar vs Ja in Jasper) and it is safest to use real words where the sound is universally accepted.

      How about Bee-Orc-Boon-Jah(as in Rajah)?

       
  3. Selena

    July 21, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Could you, please, help with some information. I am curious to understand, whether bokbunja is wine? I mean, the wine that is made by ferminting raspberries, or is it a mix of alcohol and berries?

     
    • kobayash1

      July 27, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      It is a wine – in the context you defined. Sometimes a bit of other stuff like rice is added for fermentation.

       
  4. kitchentrails

    August 31, 2017 at 6:51 am

    I really wanted to make this dish (http://www.bonappetit.com/story/jeong-kwan-temple-chef), but can’t find BokBunja anywhere. Any suggestions?

     
    • kobayash1

      September 9, 2017 at 3:20 am

      I presume there is no Koreatown near you. I have seen it listed on amazon, perhaps you should try there.

       

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