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Tasting and Appraising Shaoxing Yellow Rice Wine

2020-03-13

To taste and appraise Shaoxing Yellow Rice Wine, we need spend some time arming ourselves with some common knowledge. As it is known to all, a traditional Chinese herbalist needs to employ the four diagnostic methods --- inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiry, and pulse-taking and palpation --- before he learns about his patient's physical condition. What standards can we use to appraise Shaoxing yellow Rice Wine as to its quality?

1. Inspect: inspect the color. Good-quality Shaoxing yellow Rice wine shall comply with the specifications on color. It should be yellowish and crystal clear, though a small amount of protein sediment is acceptable. As a matter of fact, the sediment has resulted from the transformation of small molecules into larger ones during the aging of the wine. As a saying in Shaoxing goes, Old wine has a thousand layers of sediment'. If the liquid is turbid and has impurities, then it is either fake or shoddy.

2. Smell: smell the wine. Good-quality yellow rice wine gives out the unique aroma characteristic of yellow rice wine --- strong, long-lasting, yet not pungent or strange. Because inferior yellow rice wine is concocted with alcohol, aromatic chemicals, etc., it does not smell of the natural materials, but of alcohol, acetic acid and the aromatic chemicals.

3. Feel: feel the wine. Pour a small amount of wine into the palm. If it is brewed, the liquid feels slimy and oily, and, after it dries up, sticky. If the wine has been concocted,it feels like water.

4. Savor: savor the wine. Authentic yellow rice wine tastes mellow, refreshing and mild, which is typical of yellow rice wine. There is no peculiar taste. Fake or shoddy yellow rice wine usually tastes relatively light, with a fairly strong flavor of alcohol.The taste of inferior yellow rice wine is not so refreshing, lacks the mellowness characteristic of good-quality yellow rice wine and have such off-flavors as that of alcohol, that of aromatic chemicals, bitterness and so forth.

5. Compare: Compare the prices. Yellow rice wine made of fine glutinous rice and stored for 3-5 years or even longer cannot be sold at a very low price. So we should be especially careful with the inexpensive old yellow rice wine'. Many wine factories,inconspicuous or newly founded, suddenly put some 10-year-old or even older yellow rice wine on the market. This is indeed dubious, because the production of old wine needs older wine as base wine. Among the numerous wine brewers in Shaoxing, Gu Yue Long Shan possesses the largest reserves of old wine (240,000 tons). Arrange the jars containing it in a line and the line will be 4,000 km long, twice the length of the Beijing-Guangzhong Railway. Isn't this impressive? Moreover, Gu Yue Long Shan has also kept the old wine produced in 1928, the oldest discovered ever in the world. It is due to its large reserves of the oldest yellow rice wine that Gu Yue Long Shan has won such titles as `Representative Brand of the Chinese Yellow Rice Wine Industry', Chinese Famous Brand and 'Chinese Well-known Trademark' and earned the honor to be the only yellow rice wine provider to state banquets held at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.

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