Hongqu rice wine
Ye Zhonggen, a winemaking expert, pours spring water into a rice wine fermenting vat. [Photo/Hangzhoufeel]
Making hongqu rice wine is a tradition for residents of Baizhang town, Yuhang district, Hangzhou during Major Snow, the 21st solar term of the year, which usually marks the middle of winter and plummeting temperatures across the country.
Hongqu rice wine is an intangible cultural heritage item with hongqu, also known as red yeast rice, as its main ingredient. It is made by fermenting red yeast over rice.
Hongqu is widely believed by Chinese people to contain a cholesterol-lowering agent and promote blood circulation.
hongqu, also known as red yeast rice, is made by fermenting red yeast over rice. [Photo/Hangzhoufeel]
Ye Zhonggen, a resident of Xikou village in Baizhang town, is a winemaking expert with more than 40 years of experience.
He uses traditional methods to make rice wine, which include filling a wooden barrel with glutinous rice and steaming it slowly over a homemade stove until the air is filled with the smell of glutinous rice.
After steaming the rice over fire for 30 minutes, Ye spreads it on a bamboo tablet to cool it off and then puts it in a large vat along with hongqu and spring water.
It takes about 30 days to fully ferment, after which it is ready for drinking. It is rich in amino acids, vitamins, and other nutrients, which warm the stomach and dispel coldness.
A glass of hongqu rice wine warms the stomach and dispels coldness. [Photo/Hangzhoufeel]