This section is from the book "The Beverages of the Chinese; Kung-fu or Tauist Medical Gymnastics; the Population of China; A Modern Chinese Anatomist and A Chapter in Chinese Surgery.", by John Dudgeon. Also available from Amazon: Kung Fu, or Taoist Medical Gymnastics.
The Hsi Yu Grape Brandy. - If Chinese drink it, they must die. The Great Herbal strongly interdicts it.
All sorts of Wine. - All wine moves the blood. The wine made of the Sweet Sorghum, and the panieled and glutinous millet stops the blood. All wine exalts the spirits. The wine made of bailey, buckwheat, and beans, is not favourable to the air (does not harmonise). All wine is hot; the longer kept, the hotter it becomes. This latter sort is popularly called "mother wine."
Wine destitute of water, although the taste is agreeable, its nature is very violent. If it be drunk, the throat and tongue become dry and hot; and, if much be drunk, there is belly-ache and hematuria. At the present day, all use the "old wine" (rice wine), for the most part thick and strong; and, when fragrant and pungent drugs are added, heat is developed (the heat character is employed to avoid the use of the Yang in this connexion), and it removes the essence of the Yin. It injures the spirits; and, compared with the Tang wine (?), is still worse. The Tang-kwei wine, made from an umbelliferous plant, probably Iigusticuni dentilolum, can not be intended as among the thirty-four different kinds of medicinal wines which are given. The tang-kwei sort is recommended as a tonic.
The Shaohsing wine is reckoned, at the present day, the best; its taste is acid and yet not acid, astringent and yet not astringent. If you drink it, it causes head-ache and dryness of the mouth. Everybody knows then the poisonous nature of the yeast.
A wine called She-hung and She-hung-ch'un known to all the [Chinese] world, is used as a cooling beverage in summer. A poem in praise of it was written in the Ming dynasty. The mode of manufacturing this species of wine was brought from the Western Barbarians. In the time of Han Wu Ti who had business in the South-west at the same time with Fergana, the Yetae Yueh-ti Chu iung~tse and K'ang-chii Sogdiana, it was introduced into China. From the time of the Marquis Po Wangso the ancient Ode says - "All over the earth, there is no wine that is cold." In the summer, the Yin essence is secreted inside; by taking a little, one does not experience great intoxication, and one feels a degree of comfort. \t the present day, those who drink spirits also say that they take it as an antidote to the heat.
In the feudal states of Ch'in modern Shense and Kansuh, and Shu there was a wine called Tsa-ma In the Chin and Chao states, there was the Hsiang-ling wine and so on, giving a list of places in ancient times producing celebrated wines.
On the whole, after weighing the pros and cons, the advantages and disadvantages are about equal. The methods of manufacture are numerous. All are hot and poisonous.
The Herbal states that the character for "peach" was borrowed, and in the Han dynasty applied to the grape. In the Shih Chi the grape character was written thus, And ther name given to the grape is Ts'ao-lung-chu representing its clusters strung together like pearls. People drink it and become intoxicated; hence the name.* The round grapes are called as above (vegetable dragon pearls); the long are designated Ma-ju mare's teats;+- the white, crystal and the black, purple In the + Mare's milk, applied to this species of grape, is suggestive of the drink koumiss, a favourite beverage in Central Asia.
* The derivation, according to the Herbal, is thus said to be due to its intoxicating property, viz., - p'u to drink deeply, to be jolly, and t'ao drunk or tipsy, in allusion to the use and abuse of the wine made therefrom. The term p'u-Pao, now in use for grape, has been supposed to be a corruption of some foreign word. The Greek botnts, the sound in Chinese of the fust three letters, has been suggested.
Han dynasty, Chang Chien brought back the vine seeds from Hsi Yu Shen Nung's Herbal is said also to contain the vine. Before the Han, the district of Lung-hsi had the grape, but it had not entered China.* In he Pang history, it is said grapes came from Po-sze Persia, and also from Kao-chang (Fergana).