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Chinese Wine

by: Zhengping Li

Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press 2010, Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-521-18650-6

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2012 Issue: 19(4) page(s): 24 and 36

Translated by Shanghai Ego, this illustrated introduction to Chinese wine explores its history, legends, and customs, and wines place in China today. Following a twelve-page preface, four chapters discuss varieties, appreciating their rituals and customs, some legends, and information about some wine restaurants and bars. The book begins with wine consumption in Neolithic times and ends with wine drinking today.

Many color photographs illustrate and educate. Learn about that in the Book of Rites there are six important things to watch for when making wine including having ripe grains, adding ferment at the right time, being exceptionally clean when steeping and boiling, using good water and quality ceramic containers, and controlling both heating times and temperatures.

Some of the pictures are ancient, some current, all show developments and ideas for making or drinking alcohol. Words tell where wine comes from, its use in sacrificial offerings, China's most famous varieties including Old Wine and Red Ferment Wine, also Chinese spirits such as Maotai, Wuliangye, Fenjiu and Shiujingfang, and beer.

Wine rituals and wine morality, its regulations, and self control were advocated by the ancients for those in the palace and for those outside of it, namely the commoners. These old ideas work today and are: knowing to eat something when drinking, drink slowly, not to rush around with glass in hand, to drink authentic wines and spirits, and to drink in moderation.

This book ends discussing consumption of imported wines, Chinese purchase of Remy Martin, other signs of affluence, and China's going from traditional to modern cultural wine indicators.

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