I've known that wine had medicinal properties, but the Chinese take the concept of medicial wine to another level. While browsing the Qing Ping traditional Chinese medicine market in Guangzhou last week, I came across the following rather interesting set of "wines": Three Snake Wine, Scorpion Wine, Black Ant Wine, Cock Testis Wine, and Snake Penis Wine.
Each "wine" contains the objects denoted by its label. One unlabelled "wine" had some small animal fetuses floating in it. I'm kind of glad I wasn't told what they were. I understand that the wine that is most often used in these medicinal products is rice wine.
(Un)fortunately, the medicinal wine shop was not offering any tastings the day I dropped by. So, I can't tell you what they tasted like. I've heard wine snobs claim to detect all manner of bizarre aromas in wines, but I've never heard anyone claim to detect aromas of snake reproductive organs. (Perhaps Ann Noble should consider expanding the existing categories on her Wine Aroma Wheel.)
I was surprised to discover how many American travellers blog about these wines. Simply Google 'snake wine' and you'll see what I mean. More surprisingly, perhaps, is the number of travellers who actually sample these products. I can't imagine drinking any such concoction.
(Photo credit: Alan Abdine)