Huangjiu (Chinese: 黄酒), often translated as yellow wine, is a type
of Chinese alcoholic beverage made from water, cereal grains such as
rice, sorghum, millet, or wheat, and a jiuqu starter culture. Unlike
baijiu, it is not distilled and contains less than 20% alcohol.
Huangjiu is usually pasteurized, aged, and filtered before their final
bottling for sale to consumers. Some styles are aged for as much as 20
years and sold as premium products. The various styles of huangjiu may
vary in color from clear to beige, yellowish brown, or reddish brown.
Huangjiu brands are noted for the quality of water
involved in the brewing process, and some consider it to be the most
Huangjiu is either drunk directly after being cooled or warmed, or
used in Chinese cooking. Major producers of huangjiu include mainland
China and Taiwan.
2.3 Production methods
4.2.1 Seed mash
4.2.2 Main mash
5 See also
7 External links
Archaeology has established that ancient
China brewed beer, although
this fell later completely out of favor until the modern age. In its
place, various "wines" were invented. The earliest was supposedly
Dukang during the reign of
Shaokang of the Xia.
subsequently deified as the Chinese god of wine. His son Heita is
sometimes said to have accidentally invented
Chinkiang vinegar when
his forgetfulness allowed a vat to spoil.
Huangjiu are classified based on several factors. Among them are the
liquor's dryness, the starter used in its production, and its
production method.
This is the formal classification for all Chinese wines. There are
five categories: dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and extra-sweet.
Dry (Gan, 乾, 干): with sugar content no greater than 1%. This type
of rice wine has the lowest fermentation temperature. An example of
this kind is Yuanhongjiu (元红酒, literally "Champion's Red Wine"),
a specialty of Shaoxing, so-named because being successful in the
imperial examination is a great cause for celebration and fame (red)
and as well, traditionally the wine jars are painted red.
Semi-dry (Ban Gan, 半乾, 半干): with sugar content between 1% and
3%. This type of huangjiu can be stored for a long period of time and
encompasses most of the varieties of huangjiu that are exported from
China. An example of this variety is Jiafanjiu (加饭酒, literally
Rice Wine"), a variation on the Yuanhongjiu that involves
adding more rice in fermentation. The jiafanjiu is traditionally used
for ceremonies, such as child birth, engagement, and funerals.
Semi-sweet (Ban Tian, 半甜): with sugar content between 3% and 10%.
The longer the semi-sweet huangjiu is stored, the darker its color
becomes. This variety of huangjiu cannot be stored for long periods of
time. An example of this kind is Shanniangjiu (善酿酒, literally
"Best Made Wine"), a specialty of
Shaoxing which partly uses vintage
Yuanhongjiu instead of water.
Sweet (Tian, 甜): with sugar content between 10% and 20%. An example
of this variety is Feng Gang Jiu (封缸酒, literally "Conceal Earth
Jar Wine"). In comparison to previous types of huangjiu, sweet
huangjiu can be manufactured all year round when using traditional
Extra-sweet (Nong Tian, 浓甜): with sugar content equal or greater
than 20%. An example of this variety is Xiang Xue Jiu (香雪酒,
literally "Fragrant Snow Wine").
Small starter (小麴, 小曲; pinyin: xiǎo qū): Wines inoculated
using rice cultured with Rhizopus, yeast, and other microorganisms.
The mixture generates less heat, so they are mostly used in the
tropical South of China.
Large starter (酒麴, 酒曲; pinyin: jiǔ qū): Wines inoculated
using rice cultured with
Aspergillus oryzae and yeast. Almost all
popular alcoholic drinks in
China belong to this type.
Red starter (紅麴, 红曲; pinyin: hóng qū): Wines that are
flavoured and coloured with
Monascus purpureus or other red rice molds
Hot rice (燙飯; pinyin: tàng fàn): The steamed rice used to make
the wine is cooled in the open air until it is still relatively warm
Cool rice (凉飯; pinyin: liáng fàn): The steamed rice used to make
the wine is quenched with cold water before further processing. The
unfiltered mash for this wine is sometimes eaten as a dessert or used
as an inoculant for other Chinese wines.
Feeding rice (加飯 or 餵飯; pinyin: jiā fàn or wèi fàn):
Steamed rice is continuously fed into a fermenting mixture (up to
three times), which produces a sweeter wine.
Fortified: Distilled Chinese wines are added to the fermenting mash,
which increases the concentration of alcohol in the mash and halts the
fermentation process. This leaves a significant quantity of
unfermented sugars, thus producing an especially sweet tasting wine.
Bottles of huadiao jiu
Some of the most popular rice wine include:
Mijiu (米酒; pinyin: mǐjiǔ) is the generic name for Chinese
fermented rice wine, similar to Japanese sake. It is generally clear,
and is used for both drinking and cooking.
Mijiu intended for cooking
often contains 1.5% salt. Alcohol content by volume: 12-19.5%.
Fujian glutinous rice wine (福建糯米酒; pinyin: Fújiàn nuòmǐ
jiǔ): made by adding a long list of expensive Chinese medicinal herbs
to glutinous rice and a low alcohol distilled rice wine. The unique
brewing technique uses another wine as raw material, instead of
starting with water. The wine has an orange-red color. Alcohol content
by volume: 18%.
Huadiao jiu (花雕酒; pinyin: huādiāo jiǔ; lit. "flowery carving
wine"), also known as nu'er hong (女儿红; pinyin: nǚ'ér hóng,
lit. "daughter red"): a variety of huangjiu that originates from
Shaoxing, in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang. It is made of
glutinous rice and wheat. This wine evolved from the Shaoxing
tradition of burying nu'er hong underground when a daughter was born,
and digging it up for the wedding banquet when the daughter was to be
married. The containers would be decorated with bright colors as a
wedding gift. To make the gift more appealing, people began to use
pottery with flowery carvings and patterns. Huadiao jiu's alcohol
content is 16% by volume.
Shaoxing wine (绍兴酒 or 紹興酒; pinyin: Shàoxīng jiǔ) is the
more internationally known high grade version. It is commonly used in
Chinese cooking as well as for drinking. The reddish color of these
wines is imparted by red yeast rice. One prominent producer of
Shaoxing wine is
Zhejiang Gu Yue Long Shan
Wine Co., Ltd.
(古越龙山, 古越龍山) of Shaoxing, Zhejiang. It is not
uncommon for some varieties of
Shaoxing wine to be aged for 50 years
Hong lu jiu (红露酒 or 紅露酒; pinyin: hóng lù jiǔ; lit. "red
wine") is produced in Taiwan, while
Shaoxing wine is made in Fujian
Province. In the 1910s, three businessmen produced Chinese red rice
wine aged longer than other manufacturers in
Taiwan by using higher
ratio of glutinous rice content. They branded their top and the second
grade products as 老红金鸡, or literary Golden Rooster, and
老红酒黄鸡, or literary Yellow Rooster. After World War II,
Yellow Rooster was renamed as Hong lu jiu, or "Red Dew
Liaojiu (料酒; pinyin: liàojiǔ; lit. "ingredient wine") is a lower
grade of huangjiu widely used in
Chinese cuisine as a cooking wine.
Often it is sold flavored and seasoned with various herbs, such as
cloves, star anise, cassia, black cardamom, Sichuan pepper, ginger,
nutmeg, and salt.
The three main ingredients of
Chinese alcoholic beverages
Chinese alcoholic beverages are the
grain, water, and starter. Other ingredients may also be added to
alter the color, taste, or medicinal properties of the final product.
During their creation, storage, or presentation, Chinese alcoholic
beverages may be flavored or seasoned. Use of fruit is rare,
particularly compared with Korean wines, but medicinal herbs, flowers,
and spices are much more common. Well-known examples include cassia
wine (flavored with sweet osmanthus blossoms and consumed during the
Mid-Autumn Festival) and realgar wine (dosed with an arsenic sulfide
and consumed during the Dragon Boat Festival).
The earliest grains domesticated in
China were millet in the north and
rice in the south. Both are still employed in production of alcohol.
Modern production also employs wheat, barley, sorghum, and Job's
For huangjiu, the grains are degermed and polished of their bran. They
are then soaked and acidfied with the aid of lactobacillus or through
the addition of lactic acid into the soaking liquid. (Acidification is
done to discourage the growth of other microbes on the grains, which
can spoil the resulting liquor by creating undesired flavors in it or
rendering it poisonous.) This process produces a taste and mouth-feel
distinct from other forms of rice wine.
Water hydrates the grains and enables fermentation. Its pH and mineral
content also contributes to the flavor and quality of the drink. Many
regions are famous not only for their alcoholic beverages but also for
the flavor and quality of their water sources. Emphasis is placed on
gathering the cleanest water directly from springs or streams or from
the center of lakes, where the water has been exposed to the least
amount of pollutants. Water should be low in iron and sodium, with a
higher proportion of magnesium and calcium ions as part of its total
Main article: Jiuqu
The fermentation starter, known in Chinese as
Jiuqu or simply as Qu,
is usually a dried cake of flour cultured with various molds, yeasts
and bacteria. In the production of
Huangjiu it is crushed and added to
inoculate the cereal substrate to initiate fermentation into liquor.
The various molds and filamentous yeasts found in
Jiuqu exude enzymes
that digest the substrate into sugars that are in turn, fermented into
alcohol by other yeasts and bacteria.
There are three main types of starters:
Xiaoqu (小麴) or Small Starter, a small cake (10-100g) of rice flour
(or if wheat flour, termed Maiqu), cultured with microbes and
incubated for a short period at relatively cool temperatures. The
dominant starter for Huangjiu.
Daqu (大麴) or Large Starter, a large cake (1–5 kg) of wheat,
wheat and pea, or barley and wheat flour, cultured with microbes and
incubated for a longer period at relatively high temperatures. The
dominant starter for Baijiu, but often used in
Huangjiu in combination
with Xiaoqu. Its use will significantly alter the organoleptic
qualities of the ensuing wine.
Hongqu (紅麴) or Red Starter, are dried, mold-encrusted rice grains
cultured with microbes, The dominant mold,
Monascus purpureus, creates
a red pigment which colours the ensuing liquor in shades or red to
purple. Often used in conjunction with Xiaoqu to make red cereal
Prior to the actual brewing of the liquor, another small batch of
grain is prepared to produce the "seed mash" (酒母, jiǔmǔ). Seed
mash is produced by soaking and acidifying glutinous rice and other
grains, then steaming them on frames or screens for several minutes.
This cooks the grains and converts their starch into a gelatinized
form that is more easily utilized by the starter culture. The
inoculation temperature of the steamed grains is tightly controlled as
it alters the flavor character. This is usually done when the grain
has been doused with cold water and cooled to between 23 and
28 °C, which is considered the optimal initial fermentation
temperature for the seed mash.
After the little starter is added, it is allowed around two days to
begin the saccharification, acidification, and fermentation of the
Inoculation with the first starter partially liquifies the
steamed grains, which is the signal to add the big starter as well as
more water to form a thick slurry. This slurry is carefully stirred by
a brewmaster to aerate and maintain an optimal level of oxygen and
carbon dioxide in the mixture, as well as to maintain an even
temperature throughout the fermenting mass. The slurry is periodically
stirred over the course of a week. The stirred slurry is then allowed
to go through a more thorough fermentation for approximately one
month, following which the pH drops to around 3.4 and the alcohol
content rises to approximately 15%. This is the seed mash that will be
used to brew the main mash.
More soaked and acidified rice is prepared in the same fashion as in
the seed mash. The grain is then either cooled with cold water or left
out on a flat surface, depending on the type of huangjiu being
produced, as the cooling method alters the flavor and mouth-feel of
the resulting drink. The seed mash, an additional big starter, and
fresh water is then mixed into this grain in large, glazed earthenware
pots up to 2 meters (6 ft 7 in) in diameter and height. The
mixture is pounded on the sides of the pots.
Unlike in the production of Japanese sake, saccharification and
fermentation usually happen in the same mash concurrently, as the seed
mash and starter act on the cooked rice. The mixture is then left to
mature in earthenware jars for a length of time from several months to
several decades before being bottled and sold.
Northern breweries often use three big starters, rather than an
initial little starter. Large factories typically employ air blowers
to cool the second batch of grain rather than using cold water or
leaving it out to cool.
The brewery may also separate the saccharification and fermentation of
the grain, similar to sake. If this is desired, the seed mash is
typically not used, since a main mash will never be produced. Instead,
a mash of water, steamed glutinous rice, and other grains is
inoculated with rice that has already been cultivated with the mold
Aspergillus oryzae or molds of the
Rhizopus genus and certain strains
of Lactobacillus. When mixed into the mash, the molds cultivate the
mixture and convert the starch in the grains into sugar and lactic
acid. This sweet and slightly sour liquid is drained and reserved,
while additional water (and sometimes also malt) is added to the
mixture. The process is repeated until the grains are exhausted. Yeast
is then added to this liquid in order to convert the sugars in the
liquid to alcohol.
Chinese alcoholic beverages
Chinese grape wine
^ Huang, Faxin; Cai, David Tiande; Nip, Wai-Kit (2006). Y. H. Hui, ed.
173 Chinese Wines: Jiu. Handbook of Food Science, Technology, and
Engineering. Introductions to Chinese culture. 4. Taylor &
Francis. pp. 353–404. ISBN 9781420026337.
OCLC 70288640. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
^ a b Li, Zhengping (2011). Chinese Wine. Cambridge University Press.
ISBN 9780521186506. OCLC 769489216.
^ Huang 2006, p. 376, 397.
^ Chen Fusheng; et al. (2009), "
Cereal Vinegars Made by Solid-State
Fermentation in China", Vinegars of the World, Springer, pp. 243
^ "Double Lantern
Rice wine". Archived from the
original on 4 March 2007. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
^ Huang 2006, p. 391.
^ Shaoxingwine.com Archived 2007-08-10 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Huang 2006, p. 394.
^ TVB show Natural Heritage 天賜良源 episode 1 January 30, 2008.
Shaoxing wine exclusive.
^ "The history of Hong lu jiu" (in Chinese). Retrieved 24 October
^ For wine made with red yeast rice, see also zh:红曲酒.
^ Yoshida, Hajime (August 1997). "
Taiwan no bēshu, shōkōshu,
Shaoxing wine, and Hong lu jiu in Taiwan]. Nihon
Jōzōkyōkai shi [Journal of the
Brewing Society of Japan] (in
Japanese). 92 (8): 579 587. ISSN 0914-7314.
^ a b Huang 2006, p. 376-378.
^ Huang 2006, p. 366-371.
^ Huang 2006, p. 378-382.
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