6 Reasons Why Chinese People Prefer to Drink Wine During the Spring Festival

6 Reasons Why Chinese People Prefer to Drink Wine During the Spring Festival

As the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, fast approaches, there is no better time to take a look at the impact that wine has had on the celebration of this holiday and on Chinese culture as a whole. 

The most important traditional holiday in China as well as a few other Asian countries, the Spring Festival is a time when families gather together to celebrate the future, and even those whose lives have ventured far from their hometown are sure to arrive back before the eve of the festival. 

6 Reasons Why Chinese People Prefer to Drink Wine During the Spring Festival

Proving that the strong family-centered ideology within Chinese culture still holds strong, year after year the Chinese people stage the world’s largest human migration when they travel home to celebrate this holiday with their loved ones.

This holiday is a time to be reunited with family and old friends, and alcohol is something that these celebrations are never without.

The Chinese have a saying to the effect of “it’s not a celebration without alcohol”, so it is not surprising that alcohol is integral to their Spring Festival activities. This holiday is a time to be reunited with family and old friends, and alcohol is something that these celebrations are never without. 

Whether it be as a beverage to enjoy during the gathering, or as a gift exchanged with visiting family and friends, alcohol serves as a method for people to express their good feelings. As such, it is an essential part of the Spring Festival, and for many Chinese, wine is becoming the alcohol of choice for this season.

Why have traditional Chinese developed a love of wine?

1. Wine brings an enduring sweetness and is seen as a metaphor for good fortune

The Chinese pay much attention to the traditions and meanings associated with their food and drink, and place a large amount of significance on the many homonyms within their language. 

There is a common saying based on the fact that the words for “fish” and “abundance” have identical pronunciations in the Chinese language, and thus a meal including fish symbolizes good fortune in the new year. The homonymity of “cake” and “high” has also led to Spring Festival cakes becoming symbolic for progress and high achievement in life, study, or work in the new year. 

Wine is no exception to this trend, with another saying making red wine a metaphor for extended periods of good fortune.

Wine is no exception to this trend, with another saying making red wine a metaphor for extended periods of good fortune. In addition to the pronunciation of the word, the sweet taste and red color of wine are also associated with sweet and happy times, as well as good fortune in work and life.

2. Wine is considered to be a healthier alcoholic option

Nearly everyone agrees that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to harmful health effects, however wine seems to be the exception to this rule. While many types of alcohol have a bad reputation in this regard, wine is the one variety that is actually thought to have health benefits. 

Wine contains natural antioxidants called resveratrol, which can lower blood viscosity, lower cholesterol, and prevent hardening of the arteries and cardiovascular disease. 

6 Reasons Why Chinese People Prefer to Drink Wine During the Spring Festival

Wine can also have beautifying effects on the skin, with the phenols and resveratrol contained in wine acting as antioxidants that can directly protect the skin and promote its metabolism. As such, it has been particularly well-received by Chinese women. 

In addition, wine can help digestion, with its tannins regulating contractions of the smooth muscle fibers in the intestinal tract and maintaining colon function.

3. With its relatively low alcohol content, it’s more suitable for the population as a whole

The alcohol content of the traditional Chinese bai jiu (white spirits) is very high, typically over 38% alcohol by volume, and many younger Chinese are unwilling to accept its bitter, throat-burning flavor as well as the uncomfortable feeling it leaves in the stomach. 

For older Chinese, beer is generally considered to be dull and tasteless along with having a strong association with gout, not to mention the potential for interrupting a gathering by causing frequent trips to the bathroom. 

Wine, on the other hand, is not as strong as spirits, nor as bland as gut-swelling beer. Men and women, young and old alike can all enjoy a glass of wine, its natural fragrance rising from the elegant glass in their hand while they enjoy snacks and welcome the warmth of a slight intoxication. 

4. Wine embodies the Chinese pursuit of a higher quality of life

In China, wine is seen as a symbol of elegance and status, and it is considered to be the alcoholic beverage that most affects mood and feeling. 

Although excessive formality is not required when gathering together with friends and family, sometimes adding a little bit of a ceremonial feeling to an event can be fun and exciting. 

In China, wine is seen as a symbol of elegance and status, and it is considered to be the alcoholic beverage that most affects mood and feeling.

The sound of two crystal wine glasses clinking together for a toast brings a feeling of blessing and good fortune to the early Spring, as drinking wine during the Spring Festival has become a manifestation of the Chinese pursuit of high quality and elevated tastes, and a lifestyle method for relaxing the mind and body.

5. Wine is a superior beverage option for meal pairings

6 Reasons Why Chinese People Prefer to Drink Wine During the Spring Festival

Wine is able to bring out the flavor of food, making meals taste even better. Whether seafood or meat, exquisite Western-style cuisine or traditional Chinese delicacies, the perfect pairing option can always be found among the many varieties of wine. 

This way, the aromas of the wine and food can blend together, any greasiness in the food will disappear, and the New Year’s Eve family dinner will become even more delicious.

6. There is an incredibly diverse selection of wines

It is very difficult for other varieties of alcoholic beverages to match the diversity offered by wine. Red wines, white wines, rosé wines, sparkling wines and fortified wines all have their distinct styles and flavors, and each has a set of occasions for which it is the perfect choice.

In fact, wine can meet nearly any situation demanding an alcoholic beverage. Even within the major categories of wine, factors such as different soil types, climates, grape varieties, aging periods, fermenting methods, storage environments and more lead to great diversity in flavor and appearance. 

What other beverage can boast this much variety?

When the Spring Festival is soon upon us once again, with bright fireworks flashing and booming across the sky, there will be no better way to step into the new year than with a glass of wine, toasting to good health and fortune with friends and family long into the night.

Cheers and Happy Chinese New Year!

What do you think?

Vicky

Written by Vicky

Vicky was born and raised in Yantai, a small coastal city located in the Shandong Province in China, one of the most famous wine-producing regions in the country. Vicky has done researches on the global wine market strategy during her master's degree and fell in love with wine. She likes to travel, savor tasty food and her biggest dream is to travel around the world to taste the best wines.

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  1. The health and wellness trend in China is opening huge opportunities for the world’s wineries. Though baijiu’s impact remains strong, more and more people are choosing wine.

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