|Traditional Chinese 黃酒|
|Simplified Chinese 黄酒|
Literal meaning yellow wine
Hokkien POJ hông-chiú
|Similar Baijiu, Maotai, Shaoxing wine, Rice wine, Welsh onion|
Huangjiu, 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, such liquors are not distilled and contain 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. Many famous Huangjiu brands are noted for the quality of water involved in the brewing process, and some consider it to be the most important ingredient.
- How to pronounce huangjiu
- Production methods
- Seed mash
- Main mash
Huangjiu is either drunk directly after being cooled or warmed, or used in Chinese cooking. Major producers of huangjiu include mainland China and Taiwan.
How to pronounce huangjiu
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 devised by Dukang during the reign of Shaokang of the Xia. Dukang was 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.
Some of the most popular rice wine include:
The three main ingredients of 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 tears.
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 mineral content.
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:
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 grains. 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.