Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Six Bizarre Wines (You Couldn’t Pay Me to Drink!)

Southeast Asis
I have a friend who’s always traveling to some far away place and she keeps an eye out for unusual wines and drinking customs, along with unknown cemeteries and death rituals I might feature in one of my blogs. Her travel stories are usually wonderful, but sometimes they can be stomach lurching and a bit bizarre.

Take her trip to a village in Southeast Asia where she was invited to be the guest of honor and partake in a special celebration, complete with snake wine. I must hand it to her, not only did she try it, she actually kept it down during the dinner. I know I would not do the same…

But it started me thinking about what others may see as acceptable for a wine to have in it that we in the US definitely do not.

Here are just a few bizarre wines currently out there:

Snake Wine
Snake & Scorpioni Wine
Regardless of its name, Snake Bile Wine, Snake Blood Wine, Snake Heart Wine,
 or Snake and Scorpion Wine, these wines are big favorites in Vietnam, China and Southeast Asia. The point is to have a venomous snake placed whole into the bottle for its “essence.” 

Cobra Wine
Rice Still
The venom is dissolved into rice wine or grain liquor but is rendered nontoxic due to the wine or liquor's alcohol content. This type of rice wine is actually a distilled liquor with a high alcohol content similar to moonshine.

Snake Wine
The snake may be used whole, in parts, or just body fluids mixed with the wine or liquor. Imbibers believe this wine can cure many illnesses, along with hair loss and impotence. (Sounds like snake oil salesman rhetoric.)

Baby Mice Wine
Baby Mice Wine
This one comes from Korea and China, again, using rice wine. Only this time baby mice are the bizarre ingredient.  I know that sounds bad, but then it gets worse; the baby mice are between 2 and 3 days old when they are drowned in the rice wine before being fermented for a year in the bottle. Customs claim that this wine is a health tonic that can cure anything from the common cold to liver disease. (But possibly not alcohol-induced liver disease?)

Lizard Wine
Lizard Wine
Lizard Wine
Again from China, Lizard Wine is a green wine made when Gecko lizards and ginseng are placed in a vat and left to ferment. After a year the liquid is strained and bottled with a lizard. It is supposed to ward off evil spirits. (Define “evil Spirits” for me…)

Deer Penis Wine & Tiger Penis Wine
Deer Penis Wine

Tiger Penis Wine
Yes, China also crafts this peculiar wine made from the penis of a deer or a tiger. Proponents say that for the wine to retain its healing powers the penis must be extracted from the deer while it is alive. Not necessarily so for the tiger. The wine is consumed as an aphrodisiac and to enhance sexual potency – (Notice this did not enhance anything for the deer or the tiger…)

Seagull Wine
From the Arctic Circle comes a wine with wings – literally. The ingredients are simple, take a seagull, put it in a clear glass bottle or container, add water and set in the sun to ferment, for a long time. The Inuit’s created this wine apparently for the sole purpose of getting drunk, quickly. No wonder those long, cold Arctic nights are so lonely…

And, I’ll leave you with a wine from our own side of the fence - one that will surely keep you on your toes –

Sourtoe Champagne Cocktail
Downtown Hotel

This is from our friends up north at the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada.  This drink is made with champagne served in a beer glass with a dehydrated human toe added.

Preserved Toe
Legend has it that forty years ago, in 1973, a local resident discovered a human toe, preserved in alcohol, while cleaning out a cabin. He decided to create a drink featuring the appendage and began serving the Sourtoe Cocktail at the Eldorado Hotel. That toe was served in champagne cocktails for 7 years, until a man, on his 13th cocktail, swallowed it.

Club Member
Club Member
But never fear - seven more human toes have been donated to the hotel through out the years and a Sourtoe Cocktail Club has been formed. The club offers an official certificate to those who drink a Sourtoe Cocktail, but there is one rule "You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow—but the lips have gotta touch the toe."

Elephant Dung Beer
And don’t’ get me started on beer and hard liquors, there’s plenty more bizarre ingredients but I just didn’t have the stomach for it.

Ahh - Merlot
It is amazing what humans will do for the sake of a thrill or "health". Now excuse me while I go retch. Then a nice glass of a mundane Merlot might be just what it takes to settle my stomach.

~ Joy