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Sharing the convivial spark of baijiu

By J. Paul Parush ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-12-30 07:43:10

 Sharing the convivial spark of baijiu

Observing centuries-old techniques and traditions, workers prepare sorghum for a 40-day fermentation process. [Photo by Zhang Wei / China Daily]

More often than not, when a conversation among foreigners involves baijiu the tone is less than complimentary. Countless comments are focused more on the fiery taste, and less towards the appreciation of this timeless and mysterious white spirit from China.

It has been said many times that we fear what we do not know, and perhaps it's time to get to know baijiu a little better.

It seems that there are three vital keys that may be helpful for foreigners to shift their taste toward the Chinese liquor - the right baijiu, understanding the history and mystery behind what makes baijiu one of the most consumed spirits on the planet, and the perfect circumstances for enjoying a glass of it.

As with any spirit, there are different brands, flavors, grades and qualities,

Honored as China's national liquor, Moutai, both a brand leader and a premier product, might be the right baijiu for foreigners.

Moutai, which is described by Ji Keliang, the former chairman of the company, as "elegant, subtle, and pure", stands out from other brands because of its unique processing techniques.

Sorghum, a gluten-free grain, is the main ingredient used to make Moutai.

A visit to the Moutai sorghum processing plant in Maotai town will reveal a sight unexpected in today's machine-driven processing world.

A true appreciation for a handmade product can be observed as many dedicated, barefooted men, use shovels to churn the sorghum and prepare it for a lengthy 40-day fermentation process.

Using only organically grown raw ingredients, pure water from the nearby Chishui River, and a fermentation process that is four times longer than other brands helps Moutai stand tall within the baijiu category.

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