Shaoxing wine (Shaohsing Wine)June 11th, 2009 by Helen Xiaoyan Wu
Editor’s note: There have been several pieces in the Ginger Post in the past few weeks about the cuisine of the Jiangnan region, that is the region of the Changjian (Yangzi River). Here is an article about a beverage that goes well with the Jiangnan dishes.
Among all Chinese alcoholic drinks, Shaoxing wine is probably the most popular. Named after the region of Shaoxing, hometown of the great writer Lu Xun (1881-1936) in Zhejiang province south of Shanghai, Shaoxing wine has been enjoyed for over 2,400 years in China. It is also called Huangjiu or yellow wine for its colour. Though translated as ‘wine,’ it is not made from grapes but from the fermentation of glutinous rice, wheat and the pure water from Jianhu Lake in Shaoxing. It was used as tribute to the emperor in the Northern and Southern dynasties (420-589). Since 1993, it has been selected as one of the designated drinks for state banquets thanks to the numerous prizes it won at home and abroad.
Shaoxing wine is divided into various kinds, including Huadiao (carved with flowers) of mellow bouquet and taste, Jiafan (adding rice, and reducing water when proportioning materials) the medium dry type, Shanniang (fine fermentation) in medium sweet style to accompany pastries or dessert and most suitable for ladies and new drinkers, Nü’erhong (daughter in red), which is often served after a girl is born, at weddings and given as gifts due to its delightful spherical bottle shape. New releases of Shaoxing wine have floral, fruit, vegetable and seasoning additions. Shaoxing wine is best served at room temperature or heated in winter, along with Shaoxing chicken cooked in Shaoxing wine. Due to fierce competition, there have been litigations related to the brands in China.
Shaoxing wine is widely used as cooking wine and is exported to Chinatowns around the world. However, the cooking Shaoxing wine that is available in Chinese grocery stores in Canada has been salted and is not meant for drinking. The wine meant for drinking is available in some wine and liquor stores in Canada and is sold in Chinese supermarkets in some states in the U.S.A.