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June 10, 2023

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Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Wine or a more potent drink?Oh, let’s just get drunk!

ANCIENT China produced mainly two types of alcoholic drinks: huangjiu, or yellow wine, and baijiu, or white liquor.

Yellow wine, made from rice, millet or wheat, is the milder of the two, with alcoholic content of 14-20 percent. White liquor, made from glutinous rice, sorghum, wheat, barley or millet, is more potent with 40-65 percent alcohol.

In social life, however, Chinese people divide the alcoholic drinks into two different types: jingjiu, or a “good-wish toast,” and fajiu, or a “drink of forfeit.”

Hence the popular expression, jingjiu buchi, chi fajiu, or literally “to refuse a toast only to be forced to drink a forfeit.”

This expression is frequently cited to mean “we can either do it the easy way or the hard way. It’s your choice.”

Or in other words: Carrot or stick, take your pick.

This is a dilemma. If one accepts the toast, he submits to pressure to do something he doesn’t really want to, but if he refuses the toast, he will face whatever punishment or consequences as a result.

The best way out of this is perhaps to get drunk.

Chinese people believe that getting drunk can help artists, calligraphers and writers to produce their finest works. Also, after getting drunk, people tend to speak the truth, leading to another Chinese saying: jiuhou tuzhenyan, or “drunkenness reveals what soberness conceals.”

This Chinese saying can be compared with the Latin phrase “in vino veritas,” or “in wine, there is truth.”

Probably this explains why so many Chinese businesspeople love to seal deals at a dinner table, when they are completely drunk or at least half drunk.


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