Traditional brewing artistry of fermented rice wine (Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu)

Nanfang Daily & Information Times 2017-05-12

In the history of Chinese wine, the wine culture in Lingnan is famous, among which Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu in Foshan, Guangdong is one of the greatest. "Excited to get Rulin vintage wine, share it with my friends in the house. The poem is written by Zhu Jiujiang, a famous scholar in Foshan and the teacher of Kang Youwei. Rulin refers to Jiujiang and vintage wine refers to Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu. It was said that Mr. Zhu got his inspirations from the beloved Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu. Go fishing in leisure time, drink Shuangzhengjiu under the moonlight was written by a poet in the Qing Dynasty called Zeng Su after he tasted the wine.


Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu was originated from the early years of Daoguang period in the Qing Dynasty with a history of nearly 200 years. It has two characteristics in the brewing artistry——using soybeans and fat pork. Soybeans give Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu a special fermented smell while fat pork makes it mellow. Inheriting the efforts and wisdom of ancestors of several generations in 200 years, Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu gradually forms a special brewing artistry and gets into the intangible cultural heritage list in Guangdong. Sold home and abroad, it has become the favorite rice wine for Guangdong people and overseas Chinese.


History and customs

"Shuangzhengjiu, my sweet heart, drink it or cook it. A soap opera “River of wine” filmed by Hong Kong TVB tells a story between two wine-making families. The history and scenery of Jiujiang, Foshan that were once forgotten recalls many beautiful memories of Guangdong people.


The poster of TVB soap opera “River of wine”


Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu is named after Jiujiang, a historic town in Lingnan. It is a place with rich resources and outstanding people. Jiujiang port is a prosperous trading port with a history of 800 years, which makes local wine industry flourishing.


The wine industry in Jiujiang can date back to the Ming Dynasty when people started to set up small distilleries. In the Qing Dynasty, the brewing artistry gradually became mature. According to historical materials, in the Ming and Qing Dynasty, the wine-making industry was flourishing. Distilleries and wine shops are everywhere and everyone was talking about wine. The wine of Lingnan Jiujiang was well-known home and abroad. In the early Republic of China, as Dishes of Tan held by Tan Zhuanqing was famous in Beijing, Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu was a treasure of restaurants.


However, Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu is not exclusive to nobility and poets. Instead, it is affordable for the public to enjoy. In the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong and Macao area, Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu has become a part of local peoples life and a custom. Yu Wanzhao, a specialist in Foshan folk custom thinks that Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu has a kind of closeness to the public.


Wine is often used in cooking traditional Cantonese cuisines and Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu is one of the most often used cooking wines. When people are celebrating important days or festivals such as wedding, the first month celebration of a newborn baby, birthday party, the mid-autumn festival and the Spring Festival, they will offer Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu to guests. This custom has been passed on from generations to generations.


Jiujiang distillery and brewing artistry

In ancient times, there were twelve famous distilleries in Jiujiang, which was called 九江十二坊. Among them, You Long Xing was the largest distillery. During the Japanese War of Aggression against China, Jiujiang was nearly in ruins, the population decreased sharply and th wine-making industry was in depression. In 1952, leading by Yong Deng Xing, Jiujiang wine industry joint association was composed of twelve distilleries including Li Nong, Da De, Gong Yuan, Jin Ji, Xiang Longxing, Tai Shang, Sheng Xing, Hong De, Da Yi, Hong Ji and Heng Fa Long. This association was the predecessor of Guangdong Jiujiang Distillery Co Ltd now.


For a long time, Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu was the baijiu (white spirit) with the highest export volume in China, selling to Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, etc. In 1980, the export volume of Jiujiang Distillery was 3,500 to 4,000 tons and products were sold to Hong Kong, Macao, Southeast Asia, America, Britain, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Germany, etc. Thus, Jiujiang SHuangzhengjiu was also called export Jiu by Guangdong people.


Nowadays, the production and sales of Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu has been over 50,000 tons, ranking first in rice wine industry in Guangdong and being one of the tops in export volume in China. So what is the secret of Jiujiang Shuangzhengjius keeping such strong market competitiveness?


"After the processes of shuangzheng, fermentation, distillation, soaking and brewing, a special mellow flavor of fermented soybeans with clear liquor and a sweet aftertaste is made. Guan Zhengsheng said, the CEO of Guangdong Jiujiang Distillery Co ltd. He thinks that one of the important reasons of gaining its popularity is that Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu has kept the traditional brewing artistry.


"Shuangzheng refers to a second distillation of fermented rice with wine. It was said that when You Long Xing was originally set up by a couple, the wife accidentally slipped and poured the distilled wine into the fermented rice that had not been distilled while she was moving the wine jars. The couple has no choice but distill the fermented rice. And this was how a magic was born.


Shuangzheng greatly improves the alcohol content of Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu,, concentrating double flavor component through two distillations. He Songgui, the CTO of Jiujiang Distillery and a successor of the traditional brewing artistry of Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu, said that putting soybeans into yeast adds a flavor of fermented soybeans.


He Songgui, the CTO of Jiujiang Distillery and a successor of the traditional brewing artistry of Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu, was introducing products.


The core characteristic of Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu is the use of fat pork. He Songgui introduced that after a series of processes, fat pork is cut into a piece of meat with a length of 35 cm, a width of 15 cm and a thickness of 3cm. It is put into the wine jars evenly. The tiny bold capillaries in the fat can absorb impurities of the wine. And there is a lot of ferric iron in the fat pork, which is an aging agent that can concentrate the organic ingredients in the wine, making the wine fragrant and mellow.


Traditional ceramic wine jars are still used in the brewing process.


The wine jars are also of great importance. Pointing at a one-man-tall ceramic jar, the oldest wine jar in Jiujiang Distillery with 100 years history, He Songgui said, "The older the wine jars, the finer the wine. Because of the good breathability of ceramic jars, wine gradually gains a rich flavor during a slow response with the air.


Modern technology and brand promotion

"We keep the special traditional brewing artistry. Guan Zhengsheng, CEO of Jiujiang Distillery, said. With the change of times, the company has tried to innovate. The control of temperature and humidity is the most important thing in making wine yeast. With the good control degree of modern machinery, the quality of the wine becomes better. So far, Jiujiang Distillery is working with related scientific research institutions to improve the recipe.


Modern technology is used to improve wine quality.


Except for product improvement, promoting the culture of Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu has been the priority for Guan Zhengsheng. The soap opera “River of wine” played on TVB in 2011 was an effort to promote Lingnan culture. Set up in September, 2009, Jiujiang Shuangzheng Wine Museum is the first rice wine cultural museum in China and a window for people to know more about Jiujiang wine culture. More than 300,000 people have visited it so far.


Jiujiang Shuangzheng Wine Museum


In 2012, Jiujiang Distillery worked out a plan Lingnan wine town——wine culture expo. According to the plan, Lingnan elements like cuisines, cellaring, buildings will be blended into this wine town, making it the first 4A scenic spot of white spirit in Guangdong. The estimated investment will be 300 million yuan.


So far, the brewing artistry of Jiujiang Shuangzhengjiu has been selected into the Guangdong intangible cultural heritage catalogue and prepared to apply for national intangible cultural heritage catalogue. It has the title of China time-honored brand and the indication of origin is also under application.


Written by Arrietty