The 12th Chinese New Year custom exhibition held in Shanghai

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/12 19:13:39

Liquor and wine

The 12th Chinese New Year custom exhibition will run in Shanghai Mass Art Center until March 4.

About 100 drinking vessels and wine labels, 538 bottles of liquor and a series of rice wine were all on display in order to show the importance of liquor and yellow rice wine in Chinese dietary culture.

Most of the exhibits with Chinese elements are of old liquor from before the 1990s.

Some exhibits also abound with memories of Shanghai educated youth.

"The exhibition shows the wisdom of ancient people and the exhibits recalled the past," said local resident Wu Lianjuan.

The culture of social engagement related to alcohol is the outcome of grouped dining in Chinese history. Ancient people competed with talent in a banquet by reciting verses for fear of being punished with drinking.

During the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-AD25), after Chinese people invented distillation, liquor soon becomes the main alcoholic beverage for them.

According to Wang Jian from Wine Culture Committee of Shanghai Collection Association, one of the biggest difference between Chinese and Western wine is the ingredients. Chinese wine is made from grains, rice or sorghum while Western wine is usually made from sugarcane, grapes or wheat.

Declining sales

Euro­monitor International published a survey report in May 2017 claiming that Chinese people's demand for wine and spirits slowed in 2016 due to shifting drinking habits and enhanced health consciousness.

Although Chinese liquor was holding strong in the market, sales volume of grape wine in 2016 was up 5 percent compared with 2015 and beer sales are also rising in big cities.

"Nowadays, Chinese people always gather together and drink alcohol during lunar new year reunion dinners. The occasion is as significant as Christmas Eve dinner for Westerners to express their joy and excitement," said Wu Rongmei, deputy director of Shanghai Mass Art Center, the exhibition organizer.

"But young people always choose wine or beer. So I wish that more young people can learn the details of Chinese liquor, yellow rice wine and traditional customs through this exhibition," Wu noted.

When West meets East

Wang from the wine culture committee also said, "More and more foreigners have started to accept Chinese liquor and many winegrowers abroad have adopted the craftsmanship of China."

But Kelly Crawford from Britain does not like Chinese liquor, as "the aftertaste is not very nice, like medicine."

"At first I thought it tasted like vodka," Lilyming Wageman from New Jersey, the US, said in describing her feeling of drinking Chinese liquor. "But once I swallowed, it felt like fire down my throat."

Alex Arbogast from the US said, "It tastes like what nail polish remover smells like."

However, Ricardo Aguayo from New York said, "I would definitely have this liquor at a restaurant or at my home."

Nevertheless, when asked about yellow rice wine, most said that they have never heard about it or tried it. Yellow rice wine mixed with coffee, lemon and honey, which won the praise of the visitors on opening day.

Wu said that Shanghai is a city which enables cultures to blend.

"I hope that Chinese alcohol culture and traditional custom won't disappear in the fusion and expats can learn about Chinese traditional culture," Wu noted.

This story was written by Yao Jiaying.

Ancient drinking vessels on exhibit Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Mass Art Center


Girls interested in a mold clay figurine on opening day Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Mass Art Center


Raw materials for making liquor Photo: Yao Jiaying



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