Getting to Know Bokbunja

What is bokbunja and what is its origin?

Bokbunja (pronounced bock-boon-jar) is a wine made from Korean wild black raspberries. The name “bokbunja” is in hanja or borrowed Chinese characters. The first is 복 (覆) and can be roughly translated as "flip"; the second, 분 (盆) as "pot"; and the third, 자 (子) as "person”.

The word originates from a legend in Korea that a hunter, who got lost in the jungle, found some wild black raspberries to eat while finding a way out. After finding his way out, he relieved himself only to turn over the chamber pot due to feeling “energized”. Thus, the rough translation would be, “It’ll make a man flip a pot”.



What health qualities are promoted in the bokbunja?

The wine is said to promote several health benefits, such as rich in antioxidants, anticancer, and beauty effects. Studies had indicated that it is abundantly concentrated as pigments in berries, anthocyanins are believed to have potential health effects against cancer, diabetes, inflammation, aging and neurological diseases, bacterial infections and fibrocystic diseases.

Apparently, bokbunja can also lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases due to its ample alpha-linolenic acid and soluble fibers, which help reduce cholesterol and protect arterial functions. A 100 gram of bokbunja contains about 355 milligrams of alpha-linolenic acid, which is four times as much as grapes.

Due to popular reviews on its medical benefits, it has also gained the attention of Western medical studies. Ohio State University, U.S.A. has recently completed a study and released an article on the antioxidant and anti-cancer properties that black raspberries contain. An experiment using laboratory mice showed that black raspberries were effective on oral cancer, esophageal cancer, colon cancer, and skin cancer, the organization said.

The berries used for making traditional herbal medicine and health supplements are said to strengthen stamina for men and used as natural remedies to cure illnesses for women. Some of its medical functions include preventing problems associated with liver and kidney functions. Thus, it is highly recommended to those who are troubled by frequent urination, premature graying, blurred vision, and minor skin disorders.


How is Bohae’s bokbunja any different from other brands?

Bohae Brewery, a prestigious brewery in Korea with 56 years of experience in traditional wine-making has brought the natural medicinal properties of Bokbunja to life. By dint of the fixed-temperature fermentation process used, the natural function of Black Raspberry is well preserved and left intact in the wine. It was said that the type of water used affects the quality of the wine. Bohae’s Bokbunja uses natural bedrock water that is 253m underground.

It was of such high quality that It won a silver medal at the 2005 Dallas Morning News International Wine Competition and was attracting great interest among wine critics and health-conscious wine lovers while showcasing. Subsequently, it was chosen as the official dinner wine for the 2005 APEC held in Korea and was served at the 2009 Official Dinner between North and South Korea. It is no wonder that Bohae’s Bobbunja accounts for 80% of the Korean wines export market.



How to consume bokbunja? Are there other ways to utilize it?

While bokbunja is traditionally served cold, it can be served on its own or on ice as an aperitif. Another way to enjoy the drink would be by mixing equal parts of soju or other alcoholic drinks to work well too. Because of its dark fruity taste, mixing it with soda will highlight its flavor even further.

Not only that, it can be served with a meal, such as vegetarian and seafood, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese meals. It has been found that it can be added to soups and sauces as a replacement to red wine.

The nature of the bokbunja is said to have pine, floral and honey flavors. Thus, serving it as a dessert wine with dark chocolate or cheese would bring out those flavors of the wine.