That’s right! One of our Traditional Chinese Medicine professors recently invited us to his home to make medicinal wine. TCM has many types of medicinal wines (including wines with snakes in them!), but the wine that we prepared was made from fermented rice. This wine is used for overall health, rather than for treating a specific condition. I’ll take you through the steps of making this wine, but as with any fermented product prepare at your own risk! :) (Many thanks to my friend Therese for having the foresight to copy down this recipe!)
Our professor’s apartment complex:
Begin with about 500 grams of glutinous rice (the sticky kind). You can prepare the rice one of two ways: either (1) soak the rice overnight and steam for 20 minutes, or (2) steam for 1 hour. Our professor chose (1) because it is more energy efficient – and it was hot as Hades in the apartment already without steaming rice for an hour.
Our professor draining the soaked rice:
At the same time, steam a handful (about 1/2 cup) each of goji berries (for your immune system) and dried gyrophora (for strength) for 5-10 minutes. This steam serves to both soften and sterilize the ingredients.
Add 1/3 packet of yeast to steamed rice and stir. Add just enough room temperature water to moisten rice (about a cup):
Pour rice into storage container (e.g. Tupperware). You can either separate the rice into two different containers and add goji berries to one and gyrophora to the other, or you can combine everything together into one big container. We went with the former option.
Once you’ve mixed all the ingredients, flatten the rice and make a well in the middle. Cover and store in a room temperature location. After 1-2 days, you can start tasting the liquid. If the wine is too strong, dilute with water. The rice mixture should smell pleasantly of alcohol. If it just smells BAD, don’t drink it! According to the Chinese, if your mixture is too strong or has toxic ingredients, it will kill the yeast and your wine is no good. Fermenting the mixture for 1-3 days will give a mild wine with a sweet flavor, while fermenting for 7 or more days will yield a strong alcohol.
Our professor prepared some medicinal wine ahead of time so that we would be able to taste it.
Prior to pouring off the liquid:
The medicinal wine:
The wine tasted really good! Our professor fermented this batch for only a few days, so the taste was light and sweet. Notice how the wine is cloudy? If you distill it or just let it sit for a while until the solids settle out, you have sake :) I’m definitely trying this at home sometime.
Q: Have you ever tried to make your own, ahem, “spirits”?
P.S. By the time this post is up, I’ll be in Hong Kong visiting my aunt. I don’t have Internet there, so if I don’t respond to emails right away, that’s why! Talk to you all soon!