Home Life Style Chinese tipples to pep up your cocktail cabinet

Chinese tipples to pep up your cocktail cabinet

by Merry
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Helena Nicklin shares her guide to some authentic Chinese drinks to tickle your taste buds

This past weekend marked the start of the Year of the Wood Dragon and two weeks of celebrations for the Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year.

Amidst the ancient rituals associated with the festival, my interest was piqued by the fact that alcoholic beverages are often a firm part of these events.

But which one should you raise in a toast?

From Baijiu, the world’s best-selling spirit, to China’s famous ‘yellow wines’, here’s my guide to some authentic drinks that will tickle your taste buds.

Helena Nicklin shares her guide to some authentic Chinese drinks to tickle your taste buds

Baijiu

The powerful and clear spirit Baijiu is more than just a drink in its homeland, China; It is deeply intertwined with the culture and is an integral part of social gatherings, where it is sipped and accompanied by copious ‘ganbei!’ (health).

Distilled primarily from sorghum and other grains, Baijiu is more like vodka, but tastes somewhere between whiskey and raki, the clear brandy that is Turkey’s national drink.

The most well-known Baijiu styles are ‘Strong’ (Nong Xiang), ‘Light’ (Qing Xiang) and ‘Willow’ (Jiang Xiang).

The strong styles are clearly funky and exotic, and are widely drunk at parties.

Light-scented styles, with their comparatively mild and delicately scented flavors, are usually reserved for more formal occasions.

Sauce aroma styles are named for their rich salty and umami flavors. They are often given as gifts and symbolize respect for others, good fortune, prestige and luxury.

Attempt: Fenjiu Fen Chief Red, £36.99 (53% ABV), amazon.es

Smooth and creamy with a sweet and sour flavor and gentle notes of baking spices on the finish, this “light aroma” style is a great introduction to Baijiu.

Try it over ice or in a cocktail I’ve called The Wood Dragon.

Take 35 ml of Fenjiu Fen Chiew Red, 25 ml of sweet white vermouth and 10 ml of Palo Cortado sherry. Then, for the wood element, you would need a piece of Palo Santo wood, available on Amazon.

Add the wet ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Light the Palo Santo and capture the smoke in a glass jar.

Strain the mixed cocktail into the jar and stir for ten seconds before pouring into the chilled glass.

Fenjiu Fen Chiew Red, £36.99 (53% ABV), amazon.co.uk

Fenjiu Zhu Ye Qing Jiu, Baijiu, ten year old, £70 (38% ABV), milroysofsoho.com

LR: Fenjiu Fen Chiew Red, £36.99 (53% ABV), amazon.co.uk; Fenjiu Zhu Ye Qing Jiu, Baijiu, ten year old, £70 (38% ABV), milroysofsoho.com

Try: Fenjiu Zhu Ye Qing Jiu, Baijiu, ten year old, £70 (38% ABV), milroysofsoho.com

This aged, award-winning Baijiu errs on the extravagant side with its bamboo leaves and herbal infusions, giving it a deliciously complex profile of linden blossom with coffee beans, prunes, walnuts and vanilla. He’s got it all going! Drink this slowly and not too cold to allow the flavors to open up.

Huangjiu (‘Yellow Wine’)

Huangjiu is similar to wine, but grain is fermented instead of grapes. In the south it is usually made with rice, a bit like Japanese sake, while in the north millet or corn is used.

Ten-year-aged Shaoxing rice wine, £17.99 (14% ABV), souschef.co.uk

Ten-year-aged Shaoxing rice wine, £17.99 (14% ABV), souschef.co.uk

It dates back to the Shang Dynasty (c.1600 BC-1046 BC) and is the milder cousin of Baijiu. Huangjiu comes in many varieties, from sweet to dry, and is said to have many health benefits, containing polyphenols, nicotinic acid, and vitamins E, B1, and B2.

Try: Shaoxing Ten Year Old Rice Wine, £17.99 (14% ABV), souschef.co.uk

Deep amber in color, this is an aromatic and premium Huangjiu. Earthy and nutty with notes of sweet oak, honey and raisins, it is best served chilled with ice.

Fine wine

China’s wine scene is undergoing a renaissance. There has been rapid growth in the industry, with regions such as Ningxia, Shandong and Hebei emerging as key producing areas.

With a steady flow of private investment, premium wine producers like Xige Estate, based in the Dove Mountains in the autonomous province of Ningxia, are poised to propel Chinese wine production onto the international stage, showcasing genuinely good wines with “terroir.” “clearly Chinese. , that is, nuances of specific soils and climate.

Ningxia is definitely one to watch, with ambitions to grow up to 100,000 hectares of vines by 2035.

Changyu-Moser XV Cabernet Sauvignon white, £19 (13.5% ABV), ocado.com

Xige Estate N28 Malbec, £28.95 (14% ABV), thedrinksmith.co.uk

LR: Changyu-Moser XV White Cabernet Sauvignon, £19 (13.5% ABV), ocado.com; Xige Estate N28 Malbec, £28.95 (14% ABV), thedrinksmith.co.uk

Try: Changyu-Moser XV White Cabernet Sauvignon, £19 (13.5% ABV), ocado.com

A collaboration between leading Chinese winery Changyu, also based in Ningxia, and Austria’s pioneering Moser family, this unique (well, slightly blushing) white wine uses only the white juice and flower of red Cabernet grapes. Generous with ripe pear and cherry, it is elegant and refreshing.

Try: Xige Estate N28 Malbec, £28.95 (14% ABV), thedrinksmith.co.uk

Fans of high-altitude Argentine Malbec and classic Bordeaux reds will love this fragrant, polished wine with its perfume of violets and concentrated notes of blueberry and cocoa. Absolutely delicious and beautifully packaged.

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