Many types of beverages are famous in western countries. The wine, champagne, beer, etc. are widely drunk by people across the world. These western drinks are also famous in China, but people used to drink Baijiu before the introduction of western beverages in China. Some people also consider it as the national drink of China because it is the first choice of the maximum Chinese citizens. The way of preparing Baijiu is quite different from western drinks. In fact, the producers use different ingredients to prepare it and it tastes great. Baijiu has been an integral part of Chinese celebrations since the ancient age. Today, it has been chosen by millions of people in China and across the world. So, we must explore all the essential facts regarding this famous Chinese drink.
The history and unknown facts About Baijiu:
The Baijiu has not been invented only a few decades or centuries ago. The Chinese liquor lovers have been drinking it for more than 5000 years. The ancient Chinese people might not have used the same ingredients of methods of producing Baijiu, but it had been a way of enjoying life. Today’s Baijiu drinks are prepared from grains. Many other Chinese drinks are prepared from grains and that’s why they offer a very strong spirit. The Baijiu is certainly the best among all other Chinese beverages and locals also consider it as the white wine of China.
Renowned as the national drink of China, baijiu offers 40-60% alcohol by volume. The local producers produce it through the brewing of sorghum, wheat, rice and other ingredients. The strong spirit of this drink will impress you and you won’t try other liquors once you taste it. It is a crystal clear liquid. People often mistakenly consider it vodka, but they find it different in taste. In fact, no other drink tastes similar as the Baijiu and you cannot apply descriptors to this Chinese white wine. Of course, it is a unique drink produced in China, but it also has several types.
The liquor experts characterize the types of Baijiu by their aroma. There are mainly 4 types’ baijiu drinks, which are Rice Aroma, Light Aroma, Strong Aroma and Sauce Aroma. These drinks have got different names because these are produced in different locations in China. The maximum Chinese drinkers prefer tasting Strong and Sauce Aroma the most. You can find these two types’ Baijiu drinks in several Chinese functions and events.
Many foreigners visit China every year. The maximum of them enjoys Baijiu in parties, corporate events and at other places. People, who almost daily drink Baijiu, they don’t find any difference between the taste of an expensive Baijiu drink and a low-cost Baijiu drink. However, still the prices of this Chinese drink vary according to the type of in the ingredients used, the type of the method applied to brewing it and mainly according to the brand of the drink. This drink is also famous as Shaojiu in China, so do not get confused if any bartender asks you to drink it.
Explaining the types of Baijiu:
As mentioned earlier in this post, there are four renowned types of Baijiu. Let’s get details on those types to pick the best for the taste.
Of course, Light Aroma may not be the first choice of many individuals, but it is also quite famous across the world for the fragrance. People in Beijing, Shanxi and some provinces of Taiwan prefer tasting only the Light Aroma. This name is offered not because of the strength of the drink poor. It is called Light Aroma baijiu because of its unique taste. It offers over 50% ABV and it tastes really awesome. People also call Light Aroma the “Pride of North” and it was the only famous type of Baijiu across China. Preparing Light Aroma Baijius is not as difficult as other types of this drink. Let’s check the way of preparing it before you go to taste it.
The ingredients and Qu preparation:
Sorghum is the main ingredient used to prepare Light Aroma Baijius. This ingredient is first steamed and then cooled by the winemakers and later dried through fans. The wine makers also mix a saccharifying agent, known as wheat qu. This works as the fermentation agent for this type of Baijiu. A large amount of Fenjiu brewed across the Shanxi Province of China and the wine makers also mix peas in the queue.
Fermentation and distillation:
To complete the fermentation process the wine makers first mix qu and the sorghum and then pour the mix into ceramics. Water is added into the whole mix and then the pot is buried into the shallow pits. The producers cover the pits by using rice husks to maintain the required temperature. The earthenware pots are left underground for at least one month to complete the fermentation process.
The distillation process of Light Aroma Baijiu is also quite different from other processes applied to preparing wines. The winemakers dug out the earthenware jars after a month. The rice bran is mixed into the mash for the distillation process. The whole mixed ingredients are first cooled and again the winemakers add an extra quantity of qu. Again the whole mix is fermented and distilled in the same way. You get the Light Aroma Baijiu ready, once the fermentation and distillation procedure is completed. This is how Light Aroma Baijius are prepared across the China.
Strong Aroma is the most famous type of Baijiu in the China. Sichuan Province of China is known as the home for Strong Aroma and some winemakers also produce it in Anhui, Shandong and Jiangsu provinces. Unlike Light Aroma, the Strong Aroma Baijius are fermented in mud pits. It provides a robust flavor that the maximum wine lovers like in China.
The ingredients and Qu preparation:
The Strong Aroma Baijius are also divided into two main types, which are known as the single grain and multigrain Baijius. The winemakers prepare single-grain strong aroma by using sorghum as the main ingredient. Multi-grain Strong Aroma can be prepared by mixing several different grains together. Two very famous multi-grain Strong Aroma drinks are prepared from glutinous rice, sorghum, corn, long grain rice and buckwheat. Just like Light Aroma ingredients, the ingredients of both types’ Strong Aroma are also first steamed and cooled before fermentation and distillation process. The winemakers apply wheat-based bricks to prepare qu for this type of Baijiu.
Fermentation and Saccharification:
These are the pits used in the fermentation process that characterizes the uniqueness of Strong Aroma Baijius. The winemakers use rectangular mud pits, which goes a few meters deep inside the earth. The winemakers mix whole ingredients and bury them in these muddy pits for several weeks or months. The bacteria, microorganisms and alcohol leak from the walls of the mud pits. This is how the Strong Aroma gets the strongest taste. The winemakers test the pits for several years before producing the best spirits of Strong Aroma Baijius in them. The fermented grains are often mixed with the fresh grain mix and then again placed inside the old pits for the same fermentation procedure.
The winemakers remove the mud casing of the pit to take out the mash. One layer of the mash is distilled at a time and the winemakers steam the mash to pour the alcohol produced through the fermentation process. The Strong Aroma Baijiu produced through this long procedure is not packed immediately into the wine bottles. First the winemakers place the Strong Aroma Baijius for at least one year in the earthenware pots and then serve it. This is how the Strong Aroma Baijius are prepared in China.
The Guizhou province of China provides the Sauce Aroma Baijiu. It is vastly produced in Guizhou province, but it requires at least one year for the production. The winemakers use only fresh grains and brick-lined fermentation pits to prepare this type of Baijiu. The Maotai is considered as the official spirit of China, which is also a Sauce Aroma Baijiu.
Some individuals across the world may presume that Sauce Aroma includes soybeans or soy sauce, which is a completely wrong presumption. The winemakers do not use any other ingredient to produce this type of Baijiu excepting the sorghum. The sorghum is the only ingredient used for producing Sauce Aroma and that’s what brings the strong spirit in this drink.
Fermentation and distillation:
The fermentation method of Sauce Aroma is not so different from the fermentation method of the Strong Aroma baijiu. The winemakers put all the ingredients in the underground pits. The winemakers believe that the microorganisms of the qu will easily fur the walls. It happens and consequently the mash gains more complex flavor of Sauce Aroma. The only thing that differentiates Strong Aroma from Sauce Aroma is the method of fermentation in which the robust brick-lined pits are used to produce Sauce Aroma. Strong Aroma is produced through muddy pits. The producers mix the grains, put them inside the pit and later the opening of the pit is covered by the mud. It is left untouched for at-least one month and later the solution is taken out.
To complete the distillation process, the winemakers first remove mud casing and then remove the mash. The winemakers use one layer at a time and then it is distilled in the solid state. You may think that Sauce Aroma Baijiu is prepared, but it is the initial phase. The mash is distilled and then again the sorghum is added to the mash. Again the whole mix is placed inside the pit with qu for further fermentation. Again, it takes a month and after that whole process is repeated by the winemakers and then the Sauce Aroma Baijiu is produced. The winemakers produce Sauce Aroma baijiu and then pour it into earthenware pots. Now this baijiu will age for at least minimum three years and then served to the Baijiu lovers.
It is another famous type of Baijiu that belongs to the southeastern province Guangxi. Some of you may mistakenly consider it the famous Japanese Soju, but it Rice Aroma Baijiu. The effective distillation process of Rice Aroma makes it stronger than Japanese and Korean drink Soju. The only similarity between Soju and Rice Aroma is the ingredient used for preparing it. It is entirely prepared from Rice and that’s why it has the name Rice Aroma.
Preparing the ingredients and the Qu:
The ingredient and Qu preparation method creates the main difference between Rice Aroma and other types of Baijius. There is no sorghum used for preparing Baijiu. The winemakers mostly use glutinous or rice-regular as the main ingredient. The producers steam and cool the rice thrice before brewing. Unlike, other methods, the Rice Aroma Baijiu is prepared by using small and rice-based qu. The producers mix medicinal herbs along with rice flour and water to prepare it. The clay powder can also be added, but it depends on the producer that which type of Qu he wants to use.
Saccharification, Fermentation and distillation:
During the initial phase, the winemakers blend Qu powder into the cooked rice and then pour the mix into the shallow ceramics. Later the winemakers dig a hole at the center of the blend to support faster and better aeration. Now the producers cover the ceramic and leave it for one day. It is called the Saccharification process of Rice Aroma Baijiu.
The fermentation procedure of Rice Aroma is fairly different from other fermentation procedures. The winemakers pour the sugary rice mix of shallow earthenware into a larger jar. Once whole mix is poured, the winemakers add water that promotes the yeasting process. Now the larger pot is covered and left as-at-ease for minimum one week. After completion of the fermentation process, the Rice Aroma Baijiu is 3 times distilled according to the modern distillation process. All the Chinese winemakers have refused to use the traditional distillation process and stills. The winemakers in Guangxi Province place the Rice Aroma Baijiu in natural climate for several years. It gains a stronger spirit and then poured into the bottles. It is how Rice Aroma Baijiu is prepared.
The most popular Baijiu brands:
Those, who consider Baijiu as a wine brand in China, they should stop thinking that. The Baiju is itself a type of liquor that is produced by several brands in China. Some brands produce extremely strong and delicious Baijius and some produces normal. Let’s check the most famous Baijiu brands of China.
There will be nothing wrong in saying that Moutai is the national drink of China. The maximum citizens of China consider Moutai as the synonym of Baijiu. It is a Saur Aroma type Baijiu that is produced in Moutai and that’s how it has got Moutai name. It is one of the oldest Baijiu brands in China. Many wine experts believe that Moutai’s climate is perfect for producing essential ingredients, which are used in preparing Moutai Sauce Aroma Baijiu. The Moutai has been served to many famous people across the world. All of them have praised the unique taste of this drink. You can buy it by spending a considerably expensive amount, but the taste would be awesome.
- Wu Liang Ye:
It comes with a stronger spirit and it is vastly produced in the city of Yibin, Southern Sichuan. This is also one of the oldest Baijiu brands that has been selling for many years in China. This Baijiu was named as Wu Liang Ye because the producers had decided to show the mix of five different ingredients. Rice, corn, glutinous rice, wheat and sorghum are five main ingredients of this baijiu. The Chinese people have named Wu Liang Ye on these five grains. The producers use Min River’s water to brew this drink in Wuliangye and that’s why it tastes little different from other Baijius. You can get the alcohol content in this drink from 35% to 68%.
- Lu Zhou Lao Jiao:
Luzhou is called the home of Baijiu. Many individuals in China think that Luzhou used to serve baijiu during the 15th century. Well, this may be possible because Baijiu itself has the history of over 5000 years. Lu Zhou Lao Jiao is the first thick aroma Baijiu from this city. The owners have been producing this Baijiu since 1573. Still it is being sold with the same name and the same taste. Of course, the producers have applied new instruments, but the alcohol percentage still lies between 42% and 52%.
- Yang He Da Qu:
Providing 38% to 52% alcohol content, Yang He Da Qu was first produced in Suqian town by the Jiangsu State in China. This Baijiu was also produced during the Sui and Tang dynasties. At that time, people used to consider it as the drink of royal kings. When ancient China became a democratic nation, all the citizens of this nation were able to taste Yang He Da Qu. Today, it is widely sold across the nation and also outside China. It is famous for its strong spirit and memorable taste.
- Lang Jiu:
Lang Jiu had not existed in the ancient China, but today it is the fifth major Baijiu brand in China. Offering 50% alcohol content, this Baijiu is produced in the Luzhou city of Sichuan province in China. This brand is only 100 years old, but still it has got good recognition among the liquor lovers. Lang Jiu is the only Baijiu brand in China that has been effectively producing delicious Sauce Aroma, Thick Aroma and Layered Aroma Baijius in Luzhou. This may not have as older history as other Baijiu brands have, but its taste is still amazing and impressive.
How to drink Baijiu?
The Chinese people consider Baijiu as an important part of their enjoyments, celebration and events. It is quite rare to find an event in which the hosts are not serving Baijiu. People also drink Baijiu in the family gatherings, business events and in other social meetings. This drink has been being used in China since the ancient time. Thus, we can say that there is no need to cool it before serving. It can be served at room temperature and the Chinese people serve it in ceramic bottles. The bars and hotels serve Baijiu in the shots or glasses. The Chinese people follow two different cultures of drinking Baijiu. They either follow Jing Jiu or Gan Bei. You should understand them before you sit in a bar or hotel to enjoy this drink.
People, who follow to the Jing Jiu culture of drinking Baijiu, they respectfully propose the baijius on the table. The trend of serving Baijius on the family gathering is not new in China. People get together for family events and the small serves baijiu to their elder brothers, sisters and other elder relatives. The younger people pray for the good health and wellbeing of elders during the toast and that’s how people enjoy Baijiu together according to Jing Jiu drinking culture.
The Gan Bei drinking culture seems quite modern and interesting in China. The Chinese people do not say cheers, when they propose a toast. They say Gan Bei, when they toast and expect that everyone will finish the drink in just one shot. Not everyone can finish his glass in just one swing, but still people try to do it anyhow. Putting the glass without finishing the Baijiu is considered as bad manners in China. It simply means that you do not respect the toast proposer. So, please empty your glass, if you are in an important meeting and if your boss is proposing the toast.
Try it for once in life:
For several years people have drunken Baijiu in China, but now famous brands like Moutai are also supplying it outside the nation. There are several Chinese bars in the USA that serve Baijiu. Similarly, now this Chinese liquor is served in several other countries. You should taste it to know that how the grain-made liquor tastes and how stronger it seems in comparison to normal white and red wines.