Ouch, just hearing its name brings back the last hangover. Do not be fooled by its innocent sounding name; even though BáiJiǔ (白酒) could literally be translated as ‘White Wine’, its correct translation should be ‘White Spirits’. And spirits it shall give you! This baby sports around 40-60% alcohol by volume and it’s not delicious – at all. Essentially, my market research has brought to this conclusion: Baijiu drinkers can be divided into two groups, those who’ve tried it once, and those who have to drink it (for business).
Baijiu is fermented from a mixture of rice, sorghum and wheat. Maotai, which is the most famous brand in China, originates from Guizhou, a province in the Southwest of China. Reportedly, first bottle of Maotai was produced way back in Song dynasty (960-1279); today the entire process takes from one to five years and requires the beverage to be fermented eight times and distilled seven times with the resulting alcohol content of 38-55 proof (it’s a touristy business these days too, so you can head down there and check it out yourself).
Another famous brand is Wuliangye or Five-Grains Spirit (五粮液). As the name suggests, this spirit is made of five types of grain (Maotai just of two: barley and sorghum): sorghum, glutinous rice, husked rice, corn and wheat. These grains are mixed with yeast, fermented and distilled into extracted liquor, which is blended in its final step of the process (still, 5 grains + yeast + fermentation + distillation does not necessarily equal deliciousness).
Both Maotai and Wuliangye are fancy brands; they are expensive and are therefore used at any occasion when boasting is required (apparently Richard Nixon was hosted on Maotai back in 1972). All of you business people, especially those who have dealings in the North of China (where people are famously ‘generous’), will experience Baijiu in any business banquet, reception, celebration, anniversary and holiday.
Baijiu is to be drank in shots, and the number of shots purely depends on your (wo)manliness: the more you can drink (and hold it down), the better the chances of making business will be; why? because people that can drink a lot of alcohol are good, honest, trustworthy business people, haven’t you heard?!
All I’m gonna add is, don’t go into sales (your liver will be eternally grateful to you).