Snake wine for sexy time

Chinese rice wine with seahorse. Photo: Caro Malherbe

Chinese rice wine with seahorse. Photo: Caro Malherbe

No amount of champagne, oysters or horny goat weed can compete with this age old Chinese aphrodisiac. Snake rice-wine mixed with roots and herbs that have been preserved for several years taken in one gulp from a shot glass. The drink which is 55% alcohol leaves your skin tingling, your stomach burning and your mouth salivating. You might even tear up a bit, or maybe that’s just me.

Whiskey or wine?

Its day four of our in-depth journalism project and I’ve decided to shake things up a bit by exploring the Chinese drinking culture. One of the most interesting beverages I have come across is Chinese snake rice-wine.

Last week Friday our class was treated to some Chinese cuisine at Chinese Northerfoods Restaurant in Cyrildene, with our meals, a few of us decided to brave some Chinese rice-wine, or what us South Africans would refer to as whiskey.

Special ingredients

Although snake is the most common used “special ingredient”, it all depends on the maker.  Chicken feet, lizard, locust or seahorse is also used. When I say “snake rice-wine”, I don’t mean its ground up and brewed into the concoction.

No, the wine is made by fermenting rice for five days and then boiled and distilled, removing any impurities. The liquid from the steam is captured in a container with other herbs, roots and bulbs. Then the special ingredient is added. Normally the Chinese prefer snakes, specifically poisonous ones, like different species of cobra. At the three restaurants I went to in Cyrildene, they all used seahorses.

Light your sexual fire!

Li from Tsing Tao Beer bottle store said the Chinese believe the drink is an aphrodisiac that increases sexual drive, stamina during sex and can increase the size of a man’s penis. He said it is usually drunken by men but it is “good for women to have a shot too”.

A close up from Chinese Northernfoods Restaurant. Photo: Caro Malherbe

A close up from Chinese Northernfoods Restaurant. Photo: Caro Malherbe

Because of the medicinal herbs that are mixed in, the Chinese drink it for good health and long levity. Li says it takes away flu and helps build up your immune system.

Here’s to good health!

The medicinal mixture stays in its container for many years, even when the rice-wine has run out, more wine is simply added. Li says that rice wine is usually clear in colour but once it is mixed into the container it turns a yellow/red colour. “That’s when you know it is good to drink.”

This has inspired me to make a video of the bottling process. Li has agreed to have a few drinks with me and my class mates next week. Definitely going to document it.

Follow my journey so far

Click on the links to view previous posts from my in-depth journalism project on the theme: China in Johannesburg