With Decanter's first Asia Wine Awards taking place in September, find out more about new judge KwangPyo Eun, president of Korean wine company WineTec Corp.
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I live in Seoul, Korea where I work as President and “Wine Communicator” of WineTec Corp. WineTec initially opened as an online wine portal (bestwine.co.kr) in December, 2000. From then on, we made every effort in an almost non-existing wine market to emerge as a market leader, helping form the Korean wine market of today. With high quality contents and a wine information database with over 7,000 entries, our BestWine website has over 80,000 users and an active and diverse offline society.
Using this online success as a foundation, BestWine opened a wine bar (Casa Del Vino) in October 2002. Casa Del Vino offers over 700 wines on its list and currently ranks at the top of the sales market. Besides this, we are the major wine consultant for Financed Company Wine Events and restaurants in Korea and play an important role in supporting foreign wine producers in connecting with Korea’s domestic importers. Now, Casa del Vino is unanimously the very best wine bar in Korea, highly recommended by wine enthusiasts and experts.
How did you first become interested in wine?
It was in the early 90’s, I’d visited the San Francisco Bay Area many times while working in the IT industry and after a business trip I travelled to Napa Valley for two or three days to tour wineries and I have been a wine fanatic since then.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a sommelier/owner?
The most valuable lesson I’ve learnt is what a customer really needs and wants, and that service is from heart.
Is there a person or producer you particularly admire within the wine industry?
Ms. Jancis Robinson. I invited her to Korea for the first time in 2007 to be a Guest Speaker at the Hyundai Credit Card Wine Tasting & Gala Dinner. I realised she was a real Master of Wine.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
Very casual wines, around $20~$30, and mostly white or sparkling.
What are your favourite food and wine combinations?
My favourite food is Mediterranean combined with local wines.
Who was your most memorable customer, and why?
There was a group of people which started with six of them, finally ending up with twelve and they ordered almost twenty different wines which were served sequentially and wanted to change the glasses for each one. More than 200 glasses were served and cleaned thanks to my staff.
Is there a strong wine scene in your city?
Not that I know of.
Have you noticed any new trends emerging? What are customers asking for at the moment?
More wine enthusiasts are drinking more sparkling wines, especially Champagne. Even the wine fanatics and knowledgeable people are still searching for new wines to try.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter Asia Wine Awards?
Because this will be my first time judging, I am very interested to see what the other experienced experts are doing.
Written by Decanter