Italian Wine vs Chinese Baijiu: Which drinking culture attracts your interest?
Both Italian and Chinese cultures share a common feature revolving around alcoholic beverages, with both their tangible and intangible aspects tracing their history back centuries. In fact, many different countries all over the world can boast a unique type of ethanol-containing beverage which comprises an inevitable part of our social interactions.
Fruit is the essential component of any wine, with fermented grapes being the predominant source. Baijiu is a distilled alcoholic beverage, the raw material for which is usually two-color sorghum (cereal) or corn, as well as glutinous rice, wheat, barley and other crops.
Italian wine is older than Italy itself. Almost the entire Apennine Peninsula is ideal for growing grapes, so the ancient Greeks were engaged in this business here. The Romans made a great contribution to the development of winemaking, in particular, they improved the technology of growing grapevines and improved the methods of wine making.
Grapes that are used in wine production to a great extent (even greater than the production technology itself) affects the quality of the final product, along with tartaric acid, pectin, minerals and tannic acid, which are predetermined by the soil and climate, are the most decisive factors that designate the taste of the wine.
In terms of technology, baijiu started to be distilled more than 700 years ago, during the Mongol rule in China.
Its brewing technology is far more complex and has a far more decisive nature compared to the raw materials used in winemaking. This liquor has a complex flavor that is mainly decided by the type of esters remaining after the process of distillation of yeast and starch (sugar) that have already gone through alcoholic fermentation.
Wine has a lower alcohol content, generally between 8% and 15%, with fortified wines going up to 20 percent. The strength of the drink varies from 40 to 60% (sometimes higher, up to nearly 70%). A good reason why wine is a better choice for occasions when you are not comfortable enough with getting drunk.
Have you ever wondered why wine glasses are designed as transparent goblets? The answer is that color is one of the key factors in deciding the wine quality, the temperature at which wine is consumed also strongly affects the taste impression, with this in mind, wine glasses have a stem to prevent the consumer from touching the vessel with warm hands.
Baijiu requires a relatively low temperature, and color is not a key factor for tasting. The fact that baijiu is a beverage that makes you feel the intoxicating effect of alcohol faster, the drinking vessel is usually smaller in order to help you control the amount of alcohol consumed at a time. Traditional Chinese liquor cups are made of white ceramic.
A glass before dinner, a glass at dinner, a glass after dinner. Italian wine is drunk to emphasize the taste of food, and food is eaten to emphasize the taste of wine. Modern population of Italy drinks less than previous generations, but the culture of alcohol consumption is still very widespread. Italians still know how to enjoy wine like no other.
Wine tasting culture exquisitely suggests that only one or two mouthfuls of wine should be drunk from the whole glass, as the core idea is to feel the taste and smell, and enjoy the color of the beverage. Italians drink to enjoy, not to get drunk or mark the end of the week. The most important idea is to consume wine moderately. For instance, if the meal is over, but there is still some wine in the glass, it would be considered a bad taste to finish the glass. The action of alcohol is neutralized by delicious food, wine is only a touch to communication, food and atmosphere, and not the main event of the evening.
In China, on the other hand, baiju accompanies almost any social event. It is drunk in times of happiness - at weddings, birthdays, corporate parties, important negotiations, after successful deals and victories - and in times of sadness. Therefore, if a foreigner is currently engaged in business (or any other activity) in China or plans to do so in the future, he should definitely study Chinese baiju in all its diversity in advance, which, ultimately, should help in his endeavors. The reputation of a foreigner will increase significantly in the eyes of Chinese people, if he knows what kind of drink baijiu is, what effect can one expect from baijiu and how, in fact, to drink it correctly. Let's talk about the main traditions of alcohol drinking in China.
Banquet in China does not only involve alcohol, it also presents an opportunity to discuss business questions that could not be brought up in a formal environment. There are certain rules to be followed while drinking baijiu in a social context:
1. Try to drink at least one small cup of baijiu with each participant of the banquet.
2. A refusal to drink after a toast is seen as a personal insult.
3. It is not necessary to look someone in the eye while pronouncing a toast.
4. Older people and senior leaders should always be the first to drink.
5. If someone chooses to propose a toast to you, it is better to stand up to show respect, and before sitting back, you will have to propose that the person who just toasted to you sits first.
6. The one who is proposing a toast has to drink more that the person to whom the toast was proposed to.
“For deep feelings – drink down to the bottom” is a more appropriate description for Chinese baijiu culture. Liquor drinking not only requires quality, but also quantity, in order to reflect its value. However, in recent years, people have gradually realized that from a health point of view, alcohol consumption should be moderated and the habit of excessive drinking is gradually disappearing from China.
The difference between wine and baijiu culture is more like the collision between Chinese and Western culture. As our lives become more and more international, an increased number of Chinese people have begun to drink wine when they are having meals, and liquor has also become a choice for foreigners who are doing business in China, therefore, wine and liquor culture is gradually interacting with each other and thus constantly changing and evolving.