Tag Archives: China

Expiration Date: 10,000 Years Ago

9,000 years ago people in today’s Yangtze Valley, China cultivated wild rice—though perhaps Rice is like the dog of the plant kingdom, in that it practically begged to be domesticated. The plant itself has a remarkable ability to thrive in either dry or flooded fields. In addition, it mass polinates via the wind.

Today, there are over 110,000 varieties of Rice, although only Oryza sativa var. japonica is ever used for making alochol—the oldest of which (made actually 10,000 years ago) is a Rice wine made also with fruit and honey.

Dogfish Head teamed up with molecular biologist Patrick McGovern to re-brew this ancient alcohol in 2006. The result is their Chateau Jiahu—named after the site in China’s Henan Province where the archeological evidence turned up.

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Florida Makes Green Oranges

Florida boasts a booming orange juice industry, and they have Christopher Columbus to thank for it. Oranges originated in ancient China when a hybrid tree was born from grapefruit and mandarins.

Columbus introduced sweet oranges to the Carribean on his second voyage to the New World in 1493. Orange trees readily took to the Carribean climate, except their farmers were baffled when the fruit ripened, but the skin of the oranges actually stayed green!

What they did not know at the time is that in climates with cooler nighttime temperatures oranges turn orange. In climates with lots of heat day & night (like the subtropical Carribean) the fruit will ripen and taste sweet, but the color of the rind will remain green!

This is why you see orange juice from Florida, whereas most of the whole oranges we find in supermarkets come from California. The off-color fruit from Florida readily turns into tasty orange juice without weirding anyone out.

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“Vile Rice Wine”

Sake is a wine that is made from fermented rice, instead of grapes. It is about 8,000 years old, having originated in the Henan Province of China.

Contrary to popular belief, Sake does not need to be served warm. In fact, it should not be served warm! This is a marketing gimmick that helps poor-quality sake go down more smoothly—just like the salt and lime with tequila (spoiler alert!).

In 1896 somebody at the New York Times had the pleasure of reviewing Sake for the first time. They described it as a, “Vile rice wine,” with a, “markedly poisonous effect.” It would seem that in the last 123 years we have come quite a ways in appreciating this unique beverage…except for drinking it warm!



The oldest discovered systems of writing date back 5,400 years ago, and this only served to record inventories, debts, & payments. It wasn’t until 5,000 years ago that people started writing down sentences & duplicating spoken language.

On the other hand, the oldest discovered evidence of humans making alcohol dates back 9,000 years! Archeological finds in Jiahu, China have turned up remnants of human-made Rice Wine.

Thus, alcohol production is almost TWICE as old as the invention of writing.