Monthly Archives: November 2014
Seriously, people, why isn’t baijiu better known in this country? The Chinese beverage is the highest-volume distilled spirit in the world—mainly because the size of the population of its country of origin. But there are more people in the U.S. who have tried Italian grappa or at least know what it is and that stuff generally tastes like furniture polish. Anyone who says the same about baijiu hasn’t really tasted baijiu.
To be sure, baijiu is pretty strong. Baijiu’s usually at least 100 proof (50 percent ABV, about twice the strength of Japan’s shochu) and often as high as 120 proof (60 percent ABV), but what struck me the first time I sat down and participated in a serious tasting of it, was how little the alcohol dominates the flavor. I’ve detected notes of everything from pineapple to rice vinegar among the baijiu expressions I’ve experienced and never once did I feel like my nose was getting smacked with huge wave of ethanol.
And as high-proof as it is, baijiu is very much a spirit of moderation. The tradition stemmed cup from which it’s consumed holds only a half-ounce (granted drinking sessions tend to involve multiple servings, but if you’re good at math you can stay sober).
A couple of months ago I wrote about the Conspiracy of the Go-Nowheres. Now, travel writing icon Rick Steves explores a similar theme in his recent L.A. Times op-ed piece. I think he really hits the nail on the head here. Fear is a vicious circle of our own creation. Fear is what ultimately keeps the Go-Nowheres from traveling and it’s their fear that insulates them from the reality of the world outside their microscopic comfort zones. The world is an amazing place and more people need to see it. Otherwise they are part of the fear-mongering problem. Read the LA Times piece.