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Chinese Alcohol

Chinese Alcohol is always an important element and unique part offorming Chinese drinking culture. It appears in most social activities in which liquor must be the main drink to show happiness or respect.

What is the history of Chinese alcohol?

In China, alcohol is also called the "Water of History" because the stories of wine can traced back to almost every period in Chinese history. It is believed that China has about 4,000 year’s history. A legend said that Yi Di, the wife of the first dynasty's King Yu (about 2100 BC) invented the method to make alcohol.

In ancient China, since alcohol was regarded as sacred liquid, only when people made sacrificial offerings to the Heaven and the Earth or ancestors was it used. After the Zhou Dynasty, alcohol was deemed as one of the Nine Rites and every dynasty put much emphasis on alcohol administration to set up special ministries to manage alcohol producing and banqueting. Later, along with the development of zymotechnics and brewery, alcohol became an ordinary drink. Thus, many customs concerning alcohol formed and evolved which had and have various relationships with our daily life.
Wine and its brewing technology were once introduced from the neighboring regions in the Han, Tang and Yuan Dynasties. During the Tang dynasty, wine was popular and was highly praised by many famous poets. It was served as the designated offerings for the Royal Ancestral Temple during the Yuan Dynasty.
In the beginning, millet was the main grain to make alcohol, thus the so-called “yellow wine”. Then rice became more popular. It was not until the 19th century that distilled drinks become more popular. After the fermentation process, the Chinese alcohol has a balmy fragrance and is sweet tasting with no sharpness. Traditionally, Chinese distilled liquors are consumed together with food rather than drunk on its own. Alcohol always accompanies delicious dishes either when people first meet or when old friends have a reunion.

How many kinds of alcohol in China?
Yellow Liquor
wine cup in western Zhou Dynasty

As one of the world’s ancient wines, yellow liquor is unique and traditional in China. Chinese yellow liquor is fermented wines that are brewed directly from grains such as rice or wheat. Such liquors contain less than 20% alcohol, due to the inhibition of fermentation by ethanol at this concentration.After fermentation, yellow liquor has a balmy fragrance and is sweet tasting with no sharpness. Yellow liquors can also be distilled to produce white liquors.

These wines are traditionally pasteurized, aged, and filtered before their final bottling for sale to consumers. Yellow liquor has a wide appeal and is often used for culinary purposes as well as a beverage. The most popular brands of yellow wine are made in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province.

White Liquor

White liquor is also commonly called “Shao Jiu”, which means “hot liquor” or “burned liquor”, either because of the burning sensation in the mouth during consumption, or because of the heating required for distillation. Liquors of this type typically contain more than 30% alcohol in volume since they have undergone distillation. There are a great many varieties of distilled liquors.
The most famous white liquor brand is Maotai, which is called the “National Liquor” in Maotai County, Renhuai City, Guizhou Province. It is said that an empty bottle that was once filled with Maotai will emanate its fragrance after a few of days. It was awarded winners at the Panama International Exposition. To facilitate its slow maturing process, the spirit is stored for 4 - 5 years. Over this time the full fragrance and flavor develop, thus ensuring that it is a most enjoyable beverage to offer honored guests.

What is Chinese Alcohol Culture?
Alcohol and Sociality

Alcohol has an internal connection with sociality in China. Drinking provides more chances for one to make more friends as the old saying says, “Frequent drinking makes friends surrounding”. Moreover, alcohol also serves effectively to deepen and strengthen friendship. Since it shows one's friendliness alcohol is always used to relieve misunderstanding and hatred no matter how strong it is.

Alcohol and Health

Chinese people do believe that moderate drinking of alcohol is good to health. When it is cold, drinking alcohol can keep out the cold and promote blood circulation. Many Chinese do sip a little alcoholic beverage at intervals to keep them fresh and healthy. Some even soak traditional Chinese medicine into liquor to achieve better effect, which was proved to be successful.

Alcohol and Business

Banquet can form, strengthen and consolidate business partnership and alcohol plays a very important role. Banquet is the place where businessmen hunt business chances. Slightest rip and change can be discovered in banquet. Your rivals’ business information may be on your hand and help you take the reign, thus greet your success.

Alcohol and Art

Alcohol had great impact on Chinese artists than any other ones. Many of them produced their peak-of-perfection masterpieces drunk right after drinking. Being drunk and into the state of free production was the important tip Chinese artists resort to free their artistic creativity. Many famous poets, such as Li Bai and Du Fu in Tang Dynasty, had excellent performance and left us surprisingly marvelous poems after drinking the mysterious liquid.
Painting and calligraphy were raised to higher level by the aid of alcohol. Wang Xizhi, Chinese famous calligrapher respectfully called Calligraphy Saint, retried dozens of times to overwhelm his most outstanding work, Lantingxu (Orchid Pavilion Prologue) which was finished when he was drunk, but ended up in failure. The original one after drunk was the best.

poet and alcohol
Alcohol and Entertainment

People have alcohol just for entertainment. It is used to add to the fun during festive times to highlight the happy and exciting moment due to its inciting effect. Surrounding tables and playing drinking games, with glass clinking, people will soar up both physically and mentally.

Alcohol and Military

In the vicissitudes of Chinese dynasties, wars followed all the way. Alcohol was the only entertainment of the military in the time of cold weapons. Alcohol at that time was used as stimulants and rewards for the army men. The stimulating agent can make cowards brave and stir up the exhausted and heighten the morale of the army. Therefore it was the most important and effective material resorted to raise morale before and in the campaign and reward the triumphant military after.
According to history records, in the Warring States period, Duke Mu of Qin Kingdom poured the insufficient liquor into the Yellow River and drunk with his soldiers. There were many stories like this, and generals who did this always won their wars. In historical novels, alcohol and battles frequently cohabited. In “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, almost every chapter associates with alcohol. For example, Guan Yu, a hero then chopped Hua Xiong's head off while the hot wine prepared before that was still warm. Zhang Fei, pretending drunk, captured his enemy's fortress easily.

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