Chinese wine is a combination of culture and history of 5000 years, when numerous remarkable poets, painters, writers and calligraphers emerged under the cultivation of the Chinese wine culture.
Chinese wine is said to be invented in Xia Dynasty (2224-1766 B.C.) by a man named Du Kang. Once, there was such a good harvest that there were not enough room for reserving their grain, so Du Kang reserved his grain into a hollow tree in the backyard. Several months later, he found some clear liquid with mellow fragrance and good taste flowing from the tree. That is the Chinese wine different from the grape wine that is made from grape.
Chinese Wine and the Famous "Drunkards"
In Chinese, there is only one word for both wine and spirits: Jiu (酒). The top eight Chinese vintage wines are as follows:
The Moutai (茅台) from Maotai county, Guizhou province.
The Wu Liang Ye (五粮液) from the Yibin city, Sichuan province.
The Fen jiu(汾酒) from the Fenyang city, Shanxi province.
The Xifeng (西凤酒) from the Fengxiang county, Shanxi province.
The Four special wine (四特酒) from Lushan, Jiangxi province.
The Tuopai liquor (沱牌曲酒) from Shehong county, Sichuan province.
The Luzhou Laojiao (泸州老窖特曲) from the Luzhou, Sichuan province.
The Small confused cents (小糊涂仙) from the Maotai county, Guizhou province.
To some poets, calligraphers and painters, wine would create a proper atmosphere for them to express their affection. Especially when they get drunk, their inspiration will be activated, which contributed to the creation of their masterpieces. Wang Xizhi, the eminent calligrapher in Eastern Jin Dynasty (265-316A.D.), Li Bai, the famous poet in Tang Dynasty (618-907A.D.) and Zheng Banqiao, the distinguished painter in Qing Dynasty (1636-1911 A.D.) were the typical examples. They ardently love the wine.
In the ancient time, people always played the musical instruments, appreciated the calligraphy, poets and paintings, or played the I-go over the mellow wine. The wine vessels they used were exquisite and elegant.
Wine plays a dominate role in the daily life, but Chinese people don’t drink the wine for nothing. In other words, only in some certain occasions do people drink, like at the wedding feast, at the party, on traditional festivals, and the red-letter days etc, because Chinese people always use the wine as a way of emotional expression. When marry, they drink for celebrating; when apart, they drink for reluctant to leave; when reunion, they drink for cheering, and even when relatives passed away, they drink for sacrifice.
A game, named drinkers’ wager game (Xing Jiu Ling), was invented in the Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century-771 B.C.). This game can liven up the atmosphere and add fun to the feast. In the game, people poetize or compose couplets improvisedly, and the one who can’t compose the proper poem or couplet accordingly will get a "punishment" of a cup of wine.
Originally, this game was popular with the scholar-bureaucrat (a general term for ancient Chinese intellectuals), and prevailed as a folk game. It developed into a game with more common and easy-to-learn rules to allow all the common people to join. People not only composed the poem and couplet, but also rolled the dice, drew lots and guessing fingers etc.
At the banquet, Chinese people used to urge the guests to drink instead of tasting the wine, by which they show their hospitality and kindness. In the north China, guests always get drunk for being urged to drink. In the center and south, people can really enjoy the mellow wine without afraid of being gotten drunk.
So if you are invited to a Chinese banquet, you should raise a toast to the host by raising your glass and say, "Gan Bei" (means Bottoms up).
The Differences in Wine Custom Between China and the Western Countries
1). At the Chinese banquet, beer as well as the distilled spirit is commonly seen, while at the western, not distilled spirit but only beer and other wines.
2). Chinese people used to urge the guests to drink a lot wine, while people in the western only raise a toast for someone or something, and they enjoy the wine all by themselves.
3). To Chinese people, in some ways, wine is a means of interpersonal communication, while to the western people it is a way of life.
The Do’s and Don’ts When Drinking the Wine
1). Drink only in good mood. In the ancient time, people drank when the time is right, such as when the moon waxes the breeze whispers, or when the flowers bloom, the friends get together.
2). Warm the wine before drinking. Apart from the ethanol, the wine has a low level of such harmful elements as methanol and fusel oil etc. Warm the wine under a low temperature could evaporate those harmful elements.
3). Avoid mixed drinks. Mixed drinks will generate some new elements that do harm to the body.
4). Take a sip but not a big mouthful. Drink the wine in a big mouthful will increase the burden of the stomach.
5). Never drink on an empty stomach. The ethanol is easily absorbable when the stomach is empty, causing the functional disorder of digestion and metabolism.
6). Don’t drink the tea right after drinking the wine.