KOREAN NAME: 미녀들果 [과 K/P/S]
REVIEW: There is no denying these makgeollis are sugary but, when compared to alcopops, the level of sweetness is much more restrained. Even when compared to Icing Grapefruit (my review), Minyeodeul Gwa is less intense. Which is not to say that all three are created equally.
My least favorite was kiwi – marked Minyeodeul Gwa K for, you guessed it, kiwi (키위). Strangely enough this was the least sweet and yet had the most intense aspartame flavor of the three. Not to mention the flavor of kiwis has been interpreted as something sour and kind of… I want to say gym socks but that seems unfair. Whatever the taste invokes, I wouldn’t drink the kiwi version a second time.
Grape – marked Minyeodeul Gwa P for the Korean word podo (포도) – is easily the sweetest with a definitely discernible aspartame aftertaste. The grape flavor is also very present from start to finish.
Sitting somewhere in the middle is pomegranate – marked Minyeodeul Gwa S for seongryoo (석류). Of the three, this is my favorite. It’s easy to drink, the aspartame seems less noticeable, and the pomegranate flavor, while still more like Italian soda than makgeolli, is actually pretty tasty.
From packaging to product, Minyeodeul Gwa is an unabashedly girly drink. Because it is so clearly aimed at women, I think Seoul Saeng is trying to find a happy middle ground between a light soda and something that vaguely (very, very vaguely) tastes like makgeolli. I would imagine this product would never exist without the makgeolli cocktail rage that has become commonplace at a lot of these modern, upscale joomaks popping up in Seoul neighborhood’s like Apgujeong and Hongdae. These days, not only are people mixing cider into their makgeolli (read my post on maksa here), they’re also mixing their brews with fruit and honey in order, in my opinion, to attract a younger crowd who doesn’t really like the stuff their dad is drinking when he plays baduk with his buddies. Additionally, the alcohol content is 3% – much lower than beer, makgeolli, and certainly below Korea’s most beloved drink, soju. The only thing Seoul Saeng hasn’t done to drive home their cause is tell women Minyeodeul Gwa is low in carbs.
Regardless, much like Icing, it’s hard to even rate Minyeodeul Gwa because it is such a long way from being a makgeolli. However, unlike Icing, it’s less sweet (by a fraction) and generally more palatable, with the exception of the kiwi.
Body: Thicker and cloudier than what you’d expect. Grape is purple, pomegranate is pink, and kiwi is… yellow?
Smell: The grape and the pomegranate have a pleasant fruit scent that is more reminiscent of Italian soda than makgeolli. The kiwi has a scent that, while not unpleasant, didn’t remind me of either kiwis or makgeolli. Instead, it is more sour and in your face. The grape has the faintest smell of the three.
Kiwi (K) 1/7
Grape (P) 3/7
Pomegranate (S) 4/7
BREWERY: Seoul Saeng (서울생 주조)
ORIGIN: Seoul, Seongdong-gu (서울, 성동구)
PURCHASED: Seoul, Gwangjin-gu, E-Mart (서울, 광진구)
AVAILABILITY: If you’d like to try Minyeodeul Gwa K, P, or S, you’ll have to head to a supermarket (I got these at E-Mart); I haven’t seen them in any convenience stores, corner stores, or makgeolli houses.
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 3%
INGREDIENTS FOR K: water, Korean rice (6.89%), multi-oligosaccharide, New Zealand kiwi concentrate, 곡자 yeast, extracted enzymes, 효모 yeast, citrate, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, food carbonate
INGREDIENTS FOR P: water, Korean rice (6.86%), multi-oligosaccharide, Chilean grape concentrate, 곡자 yeast, extracted enzymes, 효모 yeast, citrate, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, food carbonate
INGREDIENTS FOR S: water, Korean rice (6.87%), multi-oligosaccharide, Taiwanese pomegranate concentrate, 곡자 yeast, extracted enzymes, 효모 yeast, citrate, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, food carbonate
VOLUME: 350 ml (can)
OTHER FACTS: The Korean name is a play on words. “미녀들” means “women” and the Chinese character “果” means “fruit”. However, “果” in Korean is read as “과” (or “gwa”) and this could also mean “with”. So, 미녀들果could be translated as either “Beauties Fruit” or “With Beauties”. Unfortunately, the site does not list this line of drinks, let alone an English name or translation.