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Sharing the convivial spark of baijiu

Updated: 2014-12-30 07:43
By J. Paul Parush (China Daily)

Many foreigners are curious about why baijiu is so popular in China.

According to historic documents, baijiu may date back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) when in 135 BC, Emperor Wudi considered the sauce fragranced liquor from the Maotai area "mellow and sweet". With continuous improvements in the following dynasties, it consolidated its place within the culture and history of China. And Maotai town became recognized for its significant natural resources, favorable climate, and ideal mountainous locale for producing the finest-quality baijiu in all of China.

Moutai has always been a significant nurturer and protector of the baijiu spirit throughout its illustrious history. Notable milestones for the brand include winning the gold medal in the 1915 Panama Expo, being hailed by Premier Zhou Enlai for nursing the Red Army back to health in 1935, and becoming the main celebration liquor at the 1949 feast observing the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Moutai baijiu boasts an alcohol content of 53 percent, certainly giving it a stronger taste and hot feeling in the mouth. This initial fiery response quickly transforms into a smooth and mellow effect within the throat. The magical transformation from hot fire to smooth silk is where the mystery of this white spirit resides.

Drinking baijiu, especially Moutai, is truly intended to be an event-driven experience. Enjoying a dinner with close friends, celebrating any of life's great moments, or even saluting people in your life who are truly important to you - are all circumstances where baijiu is best enjoyed.

Moutai has built a wonderful culture around raising one of their baijiu-filled mini-goblets high before an audience as an honor and sign of great respect to everyone present.

There is something transformative to be in the company of a group of relative strangers sharing baijiu. The energy and spark that travels through each individual present can uniquely be termed the "baijiu effect". One can easily dismiss this experience and only contribute it to the intoxicating effects of the sauce-fragranced spirit; however there is something more magical than that going on.

The history, purity, and Chinese heritage of baijiu all quietly stand proudly as guardians gently influencing the crowd towards becoming more than just relative strangers; perhaps even towards becoming lifelong friends. It is no wonder that many historical moments in Chinese history can be connected to sharing a glass of Moutai.

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