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Chinese Fruit Wine (non-grape)


liuzhou
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China has a long history of fermenting fruit other than grapes into wines. Here are a few, starting with my favourite.

 

131948351_Freshyangmei.thumb.jpg.75841e776c5da021006b752d3d067283.jpg

Fresh Bayberries (杨梅)

In 1997, I first ate dried 杨梅 (yáng méi), Chinese bayberries, aka waxberry or Myrica rubra*, in Xi’an, home to the Terracotta Warriors and was delighted by their sweet yet tart flavour. Later I moved to Hunan province and was able to buy the fresh fruit there when in season (May and June). I got through a lot in their short time available. They are also easy to find here in Guangxi at the appropriate time. I still get through a  lot.

 

I discovered that the locals back where I lived in Hunan 25 years ago ferment the fruit to make a wine. I immediately got my hands on a 2.5 litre jar of this wine. It is 12% ABV. Ingredients listed by amount are water, bayberry pulp, cane wine, and sugar. I am guessing (?) the small amount of cane sugar wine is to introduce the yeasts needed to start the fermentation.

 

208558587_YangMeiWine.thumb.jpg.a3112bde6592498c0589b91f6a03ead1.jpg

 

The wine is sweet, but not excessively so and retains notes of the tartness found in the fruit. My sample is commercially made, but I’m told by friends from Hunan that many farmers make the wine for their personal use. As may I one day!

 

112148839_YangMeiWine.thumb.jpg.aee4164d21254ba760c068f0715a8e20.jpg

 

WARNING:

 

There are two drinks with the same name 杨梅酒 (yáng méi jiǔ) in Chinese. THhis is a problem with translation. That last character can mean either 'wine' or 'alcohol'. The other 杨梅酒 drink is actually 白酒 (bái jiǔ - literally white spirits or alcohol) a strong liquor or spirits, in which fresh yangmei are steeped for weeks or months to flavour and colour the baijiu. It can be lethally strong! Check the alcohol content! around 12% ABV is the wine. The liquor is a minimum of 18%, often much stronger. It also tastes very different. You can't always see the steeping fruit so that is not any guarantee.

 

Yangmei.thumb.jpg.4a043bef5b879871eb9f94cf7711c499.jpg

Yangmei steeping in white spirit or liquor

 

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These are also the 白酒 strong liquor but without the fruit showing

 

* Often mistranslated as arbatus, an unrelated fruit.

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I don’t want to jump to any conclusions! Is the wine served in the type of vessel in which you display your sample? Or?

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If you mean this

 

112148839_YangMeiWine.thumb.jpg.aee4164d21254ba760c068f0715a8e20.jpg.69adc35446978a1747a70a17993ca39b.jpg

 

then yes. That is an 'official' tasting glass as supplied with the 2.5 litre jar.

 

That said, it can be drunk and often is from pretty much anything. Including rice bowls.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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金樱子酒 (jīn yīng zǐ jiǔ) is a type of rose hip wine, but not any old rose. It is made from the fruit of the Cherokee Rose, Rosa laevigata, native to southern China, Vietnam and Laos. In Vietnam, it is known as kim anh. It has also been introduced to the United States where it is considered to be an invasive species.

 

301711923_CherokeeRoseHips.thumb.jpg.81435731ddc4d35b89cc1356fb29efc9.jpg

Cherokee Rose Hips

 

The wine is made by mixing the somewhat astringent fruit with a syrup containing yeast and citric acid. It is then left for a minimum of two years. The seeds are removed from the hips before processing as they remain bitter.

 

1169151109_rosehipssteeping.thumb.jpg.0b58f365d5a99b3442ada3c06248ee50.jpg

Cherokee Rose Hips Steeping

 

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Cherokee Rose Wine

 

The wine is sweet and, of course, floral in aroma and flavour. Hip Hooray!

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Mulberries come in three main species (in fact, there are over 60): morus alba, morus nigra and morus rubra – white mulberry, black mulberry and red mulberry respectively. Let me be clear! These are species’ names and do not necessarily reflect the colour of the fruit. Some white mulberries are black, for example.

 

mulberries.thumb.jpg.19f147806cbf67d1055f8f7f08788d6a.jpg

Mulberries

 

Mulberries are important in China’s economy, being the silkworms favourite food. They prefer the morus alba, the least flavoursome of the varieties. And they only eat the leaves! Silly buggers.

 

It will surprise you not at all, but here in China both black and red varieties are a popular table fruit, but are also made into wine. Both commercially but also my a farmers needing to deal with a glut of fresh f ruit.

 

As with yangmei above, there are two beverages called ‘mulberry wine’. One is a true wine; the other is strong white spirits in which the fruit has been steeped. Alternatively, the fruit is used to flavour plain rice wine, taking about three weeks to develop colour and flavour.

 

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Mulberry Wine

 

Mulberry wine is low in alcohol (12% or less by vol) and sweet. Too sweet for my taste, but it is marketed as a 'ladies 'wine', whatever that  means.

 

O1CN01DeApnw1h0yUkPcFUF_!!691704216.jpg

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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13 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Mulberry wine is low in alcohol (12% or less by vol) and sweet. Too sweet for my taste, but it is marketed as a 'ladies 'wine', whatever that  means.

 

And that's my problem with fruit wines in general. They mostly seem to require considerable sugar and taste too sweet. Though I had a friend who used to make cherry wine from his trees and it was amazingly good and not too sweet. Not sure how he accomplised that. Locally, we have commercial production of strawberry (sparkling), blueberry and blackberry wines. Not bad if you pair them correctly but probably wouldn't want to drink much. 

 

What about plum or lychee wines? Are they common there? Or is that more Japanese? 

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2 hours ago, FauxPas said:

 

And that's my problem with fruit wines in general. They mostly seem to require considerable sugar and taste too sweet. Though I had a friend who used to make cherry wine from his trees and it was amazingly good and not too sweet. Not sure how he accomplised that. Locally, we have commercial production of strawberry (sparkling), blueberry and blackberry wines. Not bad if you pair them correctly but probably wouldn't want to drink much. 

 

What about plum or lychee wines? Are they common there? Or is that more Japanese? 

 

My problem, too.  The only ones I really like are those with some tartness to counterbalance the sweetness. Especially the yangmei. Still couldn't sit and drink it all evening, though.

 

Yes, we get plum and lychee wine (The Japanese got most of their good ideas from China! 😃)

 

We also get peach, strawberry, grapefruit, hawthorn, passion fruit and blueberry among others.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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14 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

Yes, we get plum and lychee wine (The Japanese got most of their good ideas from China! 😃)

 

Wealso get peach, strawberry, grapefruit, hawthorn, passion fruit and blueberry among others.

 

And how are they? Do you like them? How do you use them? 

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1 hour ago, FauxPas said:

 

And how are they? Do you like them? How do you use them? 

 

Well, I haven't tried all of them. They tend to be low alcohol and sweet, as we have discussed. I like the tart ones. The grapefruit is good.

I tend to drink them as aperitifs.

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Grapefruit.thumb.jpg.af054d7f85fbbef9e1af55b2d902740a.jpg

 

Grapefruit is an interesting plant. It is a natural hybrid of a hybrid. The name comes from the fruit growing in clusters as do grapes.

 

Over half the grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi) produced world-wide is cultivated here in China and a small amount of that is made into grapefruit wine. The wine is low in alcohol at 8% ABV and retains the sweet but tart, even bitter nature of the fruit.

 

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11 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Over half the grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi) produced world-wide is cultivated here in China and a small amount of that is made into grapefruit wine. The wine is low in alcohol at 8% ABV and retains the sweet but tart, even bitter nature of the fruit.

 

This one really sounds quite good. 

Edited by FauxPas (log)
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捻子 (niǎn zǐ) or rose myrtle, Rhodomyrtus tomentosa is a plant native to southern and south-eastern Asia (i.e. round here). It too is used to make a wine (捻子酒 - niǎn zǐ jiǔ), not only in China but also on Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam where it is called rượu sim

 

The plant is considered an invasive species in Florida and Hawaii (among other territories) after being introduced in the 1920s.

 

1024px-Rose_Myrtle_Fruit_in_Hong_Kong.thumb.jpg.4488c0996fd53a0d4bd6fc74f3926141.jpg

Rose Myrtle Fruit - Image from Wiipedia Commons

 

The dark-purple to black coloured edible fruit is fermented to make a light wine (10% ABV) often consumed with seafood.

 

UTB83zCohbPJXKJkSafSq6yqUXXas.jpg_960x960.thumb.jpg.79a3dd7ad146eb8d79460ba614eddb93.jpg

 

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This is as much a warning as aything else. For decades, a type of yogurt has been sold on the streets of, especially Beijing, but also throughout China. It is known as 北京酸奶 (běi jīng suān nǎi) or, less commonly, 北京奶酪 (běi jīng nǎi lào) and in the past was sold in these returnable bottles, although they are disappearing and disposable containers are taking over. The latter term, 奶酪 (nǎi lào) is now mainly used to refer to cheeese rather than yogurt.

 

493020691__Yoghurt__@Wangfujing_Food_Market_(9466868922).thumb.jpg.84a7c8ecca03f5946b87b2357e809ac7.jpg

Beijing Yogurt  Returnable  Bottles

Image: Nikolaj Potanin licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

 

The literal meaning of 酸奶 (suān nǎi) is 'sour milk', although it is used to describe all types of yogurt. The author of the relevant Wikipedia article makes the rookie mistake of confusing etymology and meaning by claiming it 'means' sour milk'. It doesn't.

 

However, Beijing Yoghurt is no ordinary yogurt. It is in fact yogurt mixed with rice wine and has added sugar and sometimes nuts and raisins. So it is mildly alcoholic.

 

Recently, I have seen examples labelled as 酸奶酒 (suān nǎi jiǔ) and flavoured with various fruits - mango, blueberry, strawberry etc. 酸奶酒 (suān nǎi jiǔ) means 'yogurt wine' and these brews reach from 6%ABV up to 12% ABV. 

 

So if you are with kids and they ask for strawberry yogurt, check it is only strawberry yogurt. Look for the character (jiǔ) meaning 'alcohol' or 'wine'. China has no particular age-related laws concerning sales of alcohol to minors so the sellers aren't going to help!

 

242521905_MangoYogurtWine.thumb.jpg.ad1786b500a72a41b575b1f88b622708.jpg

Kid Friendy Ad for Mango Yogurt Wine 6% ABV

 

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33 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

This is as much a warning as aything else. For decades, a type of yogurt has been sold on the streets of, especially Beijing, but also throughout China. It is known as 北京酸奶 (běi jīng suān nǎi) or, less commonly, 北京奶酪 (běi jīng nǎi lào) and in the past was sold in these returnable bottles, although they are disappearing and disposable containers are taking over. The latter term, 奶酪 (nǎi lào) is now mainly used to refer to cheeese rather than yogurt.

 

493020691__Yoghurt__@Wangfujing_Food_Market_(9466868922).thumb.jpg.84a7c8ecca03f5946b87b2357e809ac7.jpg

Beijing Yogurt  Returnable  Bottles

Image: Nikolaj Potanin licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

 

The literal meaning of 酸奶 (suān nǎi) is 'sour milk', although it is used to describe all types of yogurt. The author of the relevant Wikipedia article makes the rookie mistake of confusing etymology and meaning by claiming it 'means' sour milk'. It doesn't.

 

However, Beijing Yoghurt is no ordinary yogurt. It is in fact yogurt mixed with rice wine and has added sugar and sometimes nuts and raisins. So it is mildly alcoholic.

 

Recently, I have seen examples labelled as 酸奶酒 (suān nǎi jiǔ) and flavoured with various fruits - mango, blueberry, strawberry etc. 酸奶酒 (suān nǎi jiǔ) means 'yogurt wine' and these brews reach from 6%ABV up to 12% ABV. 

 

So if you are with kids and they ask for strawberry yogurt, check it is only strawberry yogurt. Look for the character (jiǔ) meaning 'alcohol' or 'wine'. China has no particular age-related laws concerning sales of alcohol to minors so the sellers aren't going to help!

 

242521905_MangoYogurtWine.thumb.jpg.ad1786b500a72a41b575b1f88b622708.jpg

Kid Friendy Ad for Mango Yogurt Wine 6% ABV

 

I saw those glass yogurt jars all over Beijing, but never stopped to sample one.

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