Travel, Culture

Chinese Wine: About Face

China has a serious public relations problem. As a U.S. citizen who has lived and worked in The Middle Kingdom since 2004, I am sometimes taken aback by the depth of distrust and hostility towards China I often encounter from my fellow Americans. It’s very troubling.

Much of the criticism of China is justified. Shoddy, even dangerous, goods exported to the United States have resulted in the phrase “made in China”  being more of a warning than a label of origin. Having said this, let me segue by pronouncing the glass both half full and half empty.

Great Wall Wine

Even as a burgeoning Chinese middle class gathers the knowledge and means to appreciate European-style wines, the charlatans are zeroing in. Charges of re-labeling cheaply made wines with high end labels have already begun to surface.

While this illegal profiteering may deeply offend Western sensibilities, it may not be seen as such a big deal to Chinese mainlanders. The reason can be summed up in one word: Face. Face, not taste, is the reason that Chinese drink European style wines.

Shocked? You shouldn’t be. Remember that Chinese have been making and drinking wines longer than any culture in the world. I say wines instead of wine because their word “jiu” encompasses a vast array of alcoholic beverages. Beer is pi jiu, rice liquor is bai jiu, grape wine is pu tao jiu, and so on.

Chinese have a highly developed traditional drinking culture that serves their social customs of Guanxi (relationships) and Mianzi (giving and saving face). They have also developed taste preferences that may or may not include an enjoyment or appreciation of Western wine and food.

Given this situation, Chinese wineries often opt to produce two differing types of grape wine: one for domestic tastes and one for Western tastes. Foreign producers wishing to sell into the Chinese market would do well to keep this in mind.

So why then is the glass half full? Simple. China is easily the largest potential wine market in the world. Chinese fascination, even reverence for things Western means they are open to new tastes, new knowledge and new experiences.

Food Travel, Culture

How To Make A Frozen Mudslide

Frozen Mudslide
Frozen Mudslide

Among my many degrees and accolades… just a minute… I’m looking for it. Nope, that’s my Truck Driving School Certificate. Nope, that’s my Eighth Grade Diploma. Ah… here it is. My Mixologists Certificate.

How to Make a Frozen Mudslide

Is this the wrong time of year to enjoy a frozen drink? I don’t think so! With the holiday season fast approaching, now’s the perfect time to pull out the blender and make a batch of these delicious “adult milkshakes.” Especially if you go to the extra effort of swirling chocolate syrup inside the glass before you serve it. I’ll tell you how.

Step One

You’ll need: Vodka, Kahlua, Irish Cream, Chocolate Syrup, Milk, Ice, Blender, Glasses.

Step Two

Pour milk into the blender; about one cup is a good place to start.

Step Three

Add one shot of vodka and a half shot each of Kahlua and Irish Cream.

Step Four

Add enough ice to make the liquid rise about an inch.

Step Five

Blend until creamy smooth, pour into glasses and enjoy.

Step Six

This is actually Step One if you want to make chocolate swirls in your glass. (I learned this in my bartending days). Lay your glass sideways on a bed of ice and spin it. While the glass is spinning, quickly squirt in chocolate syrup. Voila!

Tips and Warnings

You can substitute ice cream for some of the milk and even add a dash of French Vanilla coffee creamer for extra zing.

This recipe is enough for about one and a half drinks.

Even though it’s smooth, creamy and delicious like a milkshake, remember it packs a punch!