Overview and History:
Makkoli (makgeolli, makgoli) is a milky white rice wine that has recently become popular again in Korea. Although it is the oldest alcoholic beverage in Korea (from the 10th c, during the Koryo dynasty), its image was the Korean equivalent of moonshine until very recently. One of its unofficial names is nongju, which refers to its peasant roots ("nong" means farmer and "ju" means drink). Most people associated makkoli with grannies or hillbillies.
With the Korean interest in any "well-being" food or beverage, it's no surprise that makkoli has become a trend in the 21st century. Makkoli is made from a mixture of fermented rice, wheat and water. It is unfiltered (unlike soju and sake), so it contains lactic acid and some of the good bacteria found in yogurt. It also has fiber, vitamins, and only a 6-8% alcoholic content. To compare, wine has a 10-20% alcohol content and soju has 20-40%.
Trends and Taste:
Makkoli has a mild and slightly tangy flavor that makes it perfectly paired to flavor-bursting Korean meals. Even though it has become trendy and fancier bottles, brands and flavors have come onto the market, it's still extremely cheap and suited to making mixed drinks. When served plain, makkoli is poured into small bowls so that the liquid can be stirred and no sediment falls to the bottom.