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Seven Must-Sample Chinese Wines

July 8th, 2010 by

Wine is “the water of history” in Chinese culture and a paramount symbol and curative elixir. As with other world cultures, wine has been a muse for some of China’s most venerable scholars and poets. Wine is important in Chinese celebrations and in some, such as birthday and longevity banquets,  is the central theme.

Here are seven must-sample Chinese wines:

Maotai

Photo courtesy by Ivan Walsh.

Maotai

The national wine of China, Maotai is solely distilled in the town of Maotai, Guizhou Province. Attempts to replicate it anywhere else has met with failure. Some suggest that the town’s unique soil, water and climate all contribute to the one-of-a-kind spirit. This fiery beverage is essential in any Chinese banquet and is the wine of choice during Beijing state dinners. The town itself established the Wine Cultural Museum, which exhibits artifacts and production methods from the country’s millennium-old wine history.

Fenjiu

A white wine made from sorghum, this drink is produced by the Apricot Blossom Village in Shaxi Province. Distilled from barley and peas, this fragrant and delicate wine improves in flavor the longer it is stored. Fenjiu is also a known cure for several types of diseases.

Bamboo Leaf Green Liquor

Bamboo leaves immersed in liquor impart a green, translucent color in this famous drink. Combined with several medicinal herbs, this sweet-smelling drink is known to increase health and aid in combating heart ailments. Sipping this wine leaves a pleasant feeling on the palate and is very suitable as a summer drink.

Photo courtesy by Bernt Rostad.

Huangjiu

Brewed from wheat Qu or Xiao Qu, this liquor is one of the three dominant types of brewed wines in the world, the others being beer and grape wine. Literally meaning “yellow wine”, Huangjiu has several thousand years of history behind it and is a popular ingredient in Chinese cooking. The preparation of Huangjiu involves pasteurization, aging and filtration before the final bottling process. The most popular types of Huangjiu are Mijiu, Fujian glutinous rice wine and Shaoxing wine.

Chrysanthemum Wine

A drink that is especially imbibed during Double Nine Day. Made from chrysanthemum petals, this wine is prepared each Double Nine festival but fermented for one year and drunk during the next Double Nine festival. This fragrant drink is said to treat illnesses, bring long life and ward off misfortune.

Dukangjiu

Recognized in China for the past 2,500 years, this popular wine is named after Dukang Village in Henan Province. Made from natural Dukang spring water, this clear and fragrant liquor is recognized as the forefather of wine production in the country and the focus of the Dukang Wine Festival in Luoyang. It is a staple of celebrations and well-received in the northern parts of China, where the strong liquor brings added warmth during the colder seasons.

Gaoliangjiu

Named after the Chinese name for sorghum, this wine is also made from wheat and barley. One variant, Mei Gui Lu jiu, is additionally distilled from a specific type of rose. The majority of Gaoliangjiu is currently being manufactured in Taiwan.

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