Food & Wine

Shaoxing wine for winter cold - Says TCM

Updated: 16 Jan 2009
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Shaoxing wine is a workhorse in the TCM field. It is an ingredient in more than 70 medicines and an ideal way to dispel cold energy from the body in the winter.

Warm a bottle of Shaoxing wine, add a few wolfberries and prepare some peanuts or tofu and presto, you have a wonderful afternoon planned with friends, especially on a chilly winter day.

Huangjiu, literally meaning yellow wine, is an ancient alcoholic drink popular among many Chinese people not only for its delicious taste, but also for its ability to fight the cold. It can help warm the body, relieve stomachache and reinforce the medical function of many herbs.

Shaoxing wine is usually made from sticky rice, with only 15-20 percent alcohol concentration. The most famous are those made in Shaoxing city of Zhejiang Province. And according to different brew methods, the wines are named Hua Diao, Zhuangyuan Hong (No. 1 Scholar Red), Jiafan Jiu (add rice wine), Fenggang Jiu (seal jar wine), Shanniang Jiu (good brew wine) and Chengang Jiu (sink jar wine).

Of course, before indulging in a daily dose of Shaoxing wine, check with your doctor especially if you are taking prescription medication. Pregnant women should not drink it, but TCM doctors say it can help a woman recover faster after giving birth.

Shaoxing wine preserves almost all the nutrients of the original ingredients while the protein and starch are broken down so they can be easily digested and absorbed by the human body. Shaoxing wine is also rich in more than 18 kinds of amino acids, seven of which are essential amino acids that cannot be compounded by the body.

TCM recommends warm (yang energy) Shaoxing wine in the winter to expel cold from the body. It can help warm and sooth energy channels, strengthen the digestive system, nourish skin, and dispel cold and dampness inside.

Drinking an appropriate amount of Shaoxing wine every day , no more than 200 milliliters can help stimulate blood and energy circulation, and promote metabolism. Add some ginger while heating Shaoxing wine to help warm the body, prevent catching a cold and benefit the stomach.

Though chronic stomach inflammation patients are warned against alcohol, a little warm Shaoxing wine is acceptable. Most chronic stomach problems are caused by cold energy in the stomach.

Drinking a little Shaoxing wine won't hurt the stomach, instead, it can help dispel the cold, promote blood circulation and healthy energy, and thus relieve stomach problems. And it is especially recommended while eating seafood, as it can help neutralize the cold of seafood and prevent diarrhea.

Shaoxing wine is also widely used as yaoyin (guiding drug) in TCM. The most popular way is to make medical wine soaking herbs in Shaoxing wine and keep it for months before drinking.

Some herbs cannot dissolve in water, but do so in alcohol. And the alcohol can help reinforce the medical function of herbs while accelerating the speed in which they take effect.

Usually, the higher alcohol concentration the wine is, the better the effective ingredients will dissolve. Mild beer and wine are not good dissolvers in this case. Though strong white spirits dissolve herbs the best, it is too much of a stimulant for most people. Those who do not drink alcohol often may suffer diarrhea or itchiness after drinking white spirit. Therefore, Shaoxing wine with a moderate alcohol percentage is accepted by most TCM doctors. There are more than 70 recorded medicines that require Shaoxing wine as an ingredient.

In addition, some Chinese medicine needs to be eaten with Shaoxing wine. That includes patent drugs that promote blood circulation, remove blood stasis or dispel cold or dampness such as huoluo dan (veins and artery relieving pill) and maqianzi san (nux vomica pill).

You can drink Shaoxing wine at room temperature, add ice or heat it depending on your preference. But TCM strongly recommends heated it in cold weather.

The traditional way to warm Shaoxing wine: Place a bottle of it in water and heat the water. Shaoxing wine at about 35 degrees Celsius gives the best smell and tastes good.

Shaoxing wine and mashed walnuts:

Ingredients: walnuts (50g), Shaoxing wine (50g) and sugar (50g)

Method: 1. Mash the walnuts.

2. Mix the mashed walnuts and sugar in a saucepan, and then add Shaoxing wine.

3. Cook it with a gentle heat for about 10 minutes.

Function: Reinforce kidney, strengthen lower back, sooth nerves and benefit the brain. It is recommended to relieve headache, bad memory, sleeplessness and constipation.

Danggui (angelica), huangqi (milk vetel), jujube and Shaoxing wine (for women)

Ingredients: angelica (50g), milk vetel (50g), jujubes (35g) and Shaoxing wine (500g)

Method: 1. Soak all the ingredients in Shaoxing wine for two hours.

2. Cook with gentle heat for 20 minutes.

3. Seal it when it cools to room temperature and keep it for another 24 hours.

4. Filter the wine and drink 15-25 ml one to three times a day before the menstrual period.

Function: Reinforce energy and blood, relieve painful menstrual cramps due to deficient energy and blood.

Shaoxing wine and egg

Ingredients: an egg, Shaoxing wine and brown sugar for taste

Method: 1. Boil the Shaoxing wine and then add the egg; stir a bit.

2. Cook with gentle heat for another few minutes.

Function: Reinforce energy, strengthen tendon and bones.

SOURCE: Shanghai Daily


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