Pricey Wines Find Favor as South Korea's Market Matures | Be Korea-savvy

Pricey Wines Find Favor as South Korea’s Market Matures

A variety of wines sold in Emart Cheonggyecheon (Image courtesy of Emart)

A variety of wines sold in Emart Cheonggyecheon (Image courtesy of Emart)

SEOUL, May 28 (Korea Bizwire) – As South Korea’s wine market enters a more mature phase, expensive bottles priced over 100,000 won have been gaining popularity at major retail chains’ wine festivals, industry data shows. 

According to retailers, sales growth rates for wines costing over 100,000 won outpaced other price segments during the semi-annual “Super Wine Festa” at E-Mart and the “Shareholders’ Meeting” at Lotte Mart, major wine promotion events. 

When comparing three price tiers — under 50,000 won, between 50,000100,000 won, and over 100,000 won — E-Mart’s sales of premium wines priced above 100,000 won grew by just 4.6% in the first half of 2022 compared to the previous year, lagging behind the under 50,000 won (18.4%) and 50,000-100,000 won (15.9%) segments. 

However, in the second half of 2022, sales of wines over 100,000 won surged 11.7% year-on-year, while the under 50,000 won category plummeted to just 2.9% growth.

This trend continued in 2023, with premium wine sales rising 37.7% in the first half and 20% in the second half, even as the under 50,000 won segment declined by 27.3% and 16.9%, respectively. 

Emart Super Wine Festa (Image courtesy of Emart)

Emart Super Wine Festa (Image courtesy of Emart)

The 50,000-100,000 won range saw a 25.5% sales increase in the second half of 2022 but slowed to 13.1% growth in the first half of 2023 before contracting 4.5% in the latter half of the year. 

At Lotte Mart’s “Shareholders’ Meeting” event this year, sales of wines over 100,000 won increased by 20% in the first half, double the 10% growth for wines under 50,000 won.

South Korea’s wine market experienced explosive growth in 2019 as the “home drinking” trend attracted many new consumers. However, market expansion slowed from the second half of 2022 as whiskey overtook wine as the preferred drink for home consumption. According to customs data, wine imports declined by over 20% last year. 

While inexpensive wines under 50,000 won still account for the largest share of domestic sales, and the overall wine craze has subsided due to whiskey’s popularity, industry analysts have suggested that the maturing wine market is driving former newcomers to trade up as their tastes evolve. 

“We view the wine market as having entered a more mature stage,” said an E-Mart official, adding, “Long-time wine enthusiasts have developed discerning palates, leading to higher average spending and robust sales growth for premium wines over 100,000 won.”

A Lotte Mart representative noted, “In addition to purchases for personal enjoyment, premium wines over 100,000 won are popular as gifts, contributing to their strong sales performance.”

Ashley Song ( 

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