Chapter 3: Rice Wines in China, Their History, Processes and Products

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3.1     Rice wines in General
3.1.1 Introduction
Rice wines ( "Huang Jiu in Chinese alphabetic writting, and "Huang" meaning "yellow" in color ) are fermented alcoholic drinks produced from cereals with wheat QU or XIAO QU used as saccharifying and fermenting agents. They may have other traditional names in some regions, for example, "Lao Jiu"(aged rice wine) in Jiangsu Province, Zhejiang Province; "Shui Jji" ( dilluted rice wine) In Jiangxi Province; "Chou Jiu" in Shangxi Province.According to the latest nomenclature, Rice wines are general designation for all the fermented drinks produced from cereals. This category ranges from very primitive rice wine to highly sophisticated Shaoxing Rice Wine. Rice wines are usually yellow, red, brown or black in color; and they may be clarified into liquid, or turbidly suspended liquid; even they may be semi-solid, unfiltered mash ( "JIU NIANG").
Fig. 3.1.1 Rice Wine Produced in Shaoxing, Zejiang Province
3.1.2 Classification
There are several clasification systems to clasify the rice wines. Rice wines can be classified according to the production methods, the residual sugar content, and the sacchrification and fermenting agents used. But the most commonly used calssification divides all rice wines into five types according to their residual sugar in the rice wines (Standard Classification ). Formal Classification
There are five basic types of rice wines, mainly according to their brewing methods and their residual sugar in them, That is: dry type, semi-dry type, semi-sweet type,sweet type and Extra -sweet type. The specifications of each type are listed in following Chapters. Classification according to the production methods
(1) LING FAN JIU ( in Chinese pronuanciation): the feature of the procedure for making LING FAN JIU is to cool the steamed rice with cold water drenching through it, after that, the cooled rice is mixed with starters (Xiao Qu ), then the saccharification begins. Usually, LING FAN JIU is used as starter for inoculating main mash. Of cource, it also can be drunk after fermentation for several days.
3.1.4 Chemical compositions of the rice wines
Table 1 Chemical Compositions of Four Types of Rice Wine
specific gravity0.9920.9951.03491.073
extracts (g/100 ml)3.3254.45015.6524.44
sugar (g/100 ml)0.380.786.5020.00
total acids(g/100 ml)0.480.460.460.28
volatile acids (g/100 ml)0.060.0270.0540.056
non-volatile acids (g/100 ml)0.420.430.4060.22
Table 2 Amino Acids Contents in Varieties of Rice Wines ( mg/L)
Amino acidsShaoxing JIA FAN JIUCorn WineBlack Rice Wine
Aspartic acid307.7102.320.0
Glutamic acid418.1429.772.8

The Chinese have taken great pride in their rice wines all the time. The best rice wines are produced by traditional natural fermentation methods and sold without additives. Many such varieties are now available throughout the world. Most rice wices were prepared at domesticaly in ancient times. However rice wines are now manufactured commercially in modernized rice breweries by professional craftsmen on a large scale. The rice wines are being marketed in Hong Kong, Japan and the other countries and regions in South-east Asia.

The maximum percentage of alcohol in original pure rice wine is below 20 %, usually 15%-16%. It needs about 3 months from polishing of rice to pasteurization of rice wine before packaging. The rice wine maturation after being pasteurized varies place to place, usually from six months to 1 year. About 230 kgs of pure rice wine can be produced from 100 kg of rice.

(2) TANG FAN JIU: the characteristic of its process is to cool the hot steamed rice by air after spreading it onto bamboo raft before mixing with wheat QU, starters and acidified rice-steeping liquid.

(3) WEI FAN JIU: this type of rice wine is produced with the fed -batch fermentation method, that is, the steamed rice is added intermittently during the fermentation period, ussally in three batches.

(4) Fortified rice wines: for making fortified rice wines, aged rice wines or spirits distilled from rice wine fermented with XIAO QU) are usually added to the main mash before the main fermentation is ceased. In this case, the final alcohol concentrations of the fortified rice wines reached to above 20%. Because of such high concentrations of ethanol, the microorganisms in the mash are inhibited, the saccharification of dextrin remaining in the main mash into sugar is carried out slowly, resulting high content residual sugar in the fortified rice wines. Classifying According to the Sacchrifying and Fermenting Agents Used
The rice wines are produced with Jiu Qu. There are various types of Jiu Qu, such as the uncooked wheat Qu ( Sheng Mai Qu), cooked wheat Qu (Shu Mai Qu), Xiao Qu, red rice (ANGKAK), Wu Yi Hong Qu, or commercially manufactured enzymes. The rice wines occasionally are named according to the types of Qu used.

3.1.3 Utilization of Rice Wines
Rice wines had been the most popular alcoholic drinks for Chinese in ancient times, and are still one of the popular alcoholic beverages, especially in South China. Rice wines are popular among all classes of the native population. They are consumed in very large quantities during festivals, at social gathering, especially in winter. They are served on holidays and at wedding ceremories in the homes of country people as well as urban dwellers. They are normally warmed to about 35 to 40 ℃.
As rice wines contain rich nutrients, they are good for bringing up a good appetite and good health upon regular drinking in suitable amounts. They can also be used as a cooking additive to relieve stinking and make dishes more delicious. In addition, they are good ingredients to be added to increase the efficiency of Chinese medicine, which can stimulate the blood circulation and keep the muscles relaxed. In ancient times, the rice wine was considered as "the best of all medicines". A large amount of healthy alcoholic drinks are based on rice wines. The herbs may be added to the fermenting mash, and the effective components are extracted during the fermenting process; or the herbs are steeped in finished rice wines and then healthy rice wine is aged for a long time.
Analyses show that the rice wines ( the rice wines produced in Shaoxing as an example) containe 21 varieties of amino acids, 9 varieties of organic acids, over 10 varieties of esters, and various vitamines.Ethanol contents are usually between 15-20% (v/v).

From :Rice Wine Brewing and the Fundamental Rice Wine Brewing Technology

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