What is Makgeolli Korean Rice Wine, Is It Really Rich in Benefits

Traditional alcohol from Korea. Korean rice wine is still less popular than soju, but makgeolli has many health benefits. This can not be separated from the various nutritional content and lactobacillus in it.

Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages can be bad for health. But when consumed in moderation, makgeolli is a healthier choice when compared to some other alcoholic beverages.

What is makgeolli?


Makgeolli is a traditional Korean drink made of rice, water and a fermented ingredient called nuruk. When compared to other alcoholic beverages, Korean rice wine contains high concentrations of nutrients and organic acids.

The alcohol content is 6-8%, which is quite low when compared to soju which has an alcohol content of approximately 20%. Makgeolli was also previously known as ihwa-ju or nonju.

Nuruk used to make Korean rice wine is a kind of dry dough consisting of bacteria, wild yeast and koji mushroom spores. While the rice is recommended to use sweet rice so that the sour taste in this drink can be reduced. However, makgeolli can still be made using plain rice.

To make magneolli, must go through several steps, including:

  • Rice is washed thoroughly and soaked for 1-3 hours.
  • The rice is then cooked using a bamboo steamer until cooked, about 40 minutes.
  • The cooked rice is left at room temperature for about 1-2 hours to cool.
  • Nuruk is added to the sweet rice and given more water, then mixed thoroughly by hand. It's best to make sure there aren't any lumps that are still too big.
  • The mixture is left for 10 to 15 days in a room that does not exceed 25 degrees Celsius.
  • Nuruk will act as a breakdown of starch in rice into sugar and then produce alcohol. This mixture is called wonju.
  • Wonju is allowed to settle, until it is divided into a clear liquid and a precipitate.
  • The resulting clear alcoholic liquid is called cheonju, the drink of Korean royalty. Cheonju can be re-distilled to produce soju.
  • The wonju deposits are known as takju. This part is diluted with water, and filtered using a filter cloth called sambe to produce makgeolli.

Makgeolli and soju have the same initial fermentation process but are then further produced into different beverage products. Because it is diluted again, the alcohol content in makgeolli is not as much as soju which can have a concentration of up to 24%.

In addition to losing the concentration of alcohol, the amount of consumption of makgeolli is also still less than soju. Since ancient times, makgeolli is better known as the drink of workers or farmers while soju is consumed by people with higher social strata.

But in fact, the nutritional content of makgeolli, which contains rice deposits and nuruk, is higher and healthier.

Benefits of makgeolli for health

Makgeolli is often a food companion

Makgeolli is considered as one of the healthiest alcoholic drinks because of the various ingredients in it. Korean rice wine contains 80% water and 6-8% alcohol and contains high levels of lactic acid and lactobacillus bacteria, even equivalent to yogurt.

In addition, makgeolli also contains 2% protein, 0.8% carbohydrates, 0.1% fat and 10% dietary fiber. What's more, Korean rice wine also contains vitamins B and C.

Makgeolli is also reported to have various medical effects, including antioxidant, antihypertensive, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic and anticancer activities.

If consumed in moderation, some of the possible benefits of makgeolli include:

  • Maintain digestive health
  • Increase the number of beneficial probiotic bacteria and eradicate harmful bacteria
  • Increase metabolism
  • Strengthen immune function
  • Slows down the aging process and maintains the appearance of the skin
  • Overcoming inflammation
  • Promote blood circulation

The taste and content of makgeolli can vary depending on the type of ingredients used. Makgeolli is a good source of vitamins, minerals, sugar, protein, organic acids and free amino acids for the body. Korean rice wine can be considered as an ordinary drink, medicine and also a probiotic.

However, considering that makgeolli is an alcoholic beverage with a high carbohydrate content, you should limit the consumption of this Korean rice wine. What's more, modernly packaged makgeoli can have higher added ingredients and sugar than traditional makgeolli.

Drinking makgeolli in excess can still cause a hangover. Meanwhile, the added sugar content in modern packaged makgeolli is also not good for health if consumed too much.

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