Drink with Chinese

The Chinese are big drinkers especially in Northern and Western China. It does not matter if it is lunch or dinner; as long as a meal is being hosted, there will be alcohol.

The origins of fermenting and drinking wine in China go far back in time. Chinese ancestors either used wine as a libation to their forefathers to express reverence, or to enjoy by themselves while writing poetry or prose, or to toast their relatives and friends during a feast. 

Traditionally, Chinese people drink wine only when eating. It is believed that wine should be consumed slowly to enhance its pleasure. Chinese wine is the favorite, followed by red wine and beer. Chinese wine is more like fuel than liquor, having an alcohol concentration as high as 60%! No matter how good a drinker you may think of yourself, never, ever challenge a Chinese into a drinking contest. They will win, hands down!

It is not polite at formal dinner to drink wine or liquor by oneself. If you want to drink, you may offer a toast to anyone at the table and then enjoy yourself. It is also seen as rude not to drink with the Chinese in a formal dinner. To maintain your sanity, either claim to be a non alcoholic or plead medical grounds as an excuse. This will let you off the hook with little or minimal drinks. Better yet, bring a partner who can drink on your behalf!

In the same way, if you happen to be the guest of honor at a meal, or the “object” of numerous toasts, it is perfectly acceptable to raise your glass to your lips and lick the wine lightly. Ganbei is a popular toast term in China, which means “empty your glass” or “bottom Up”. As a rule, toasts are necessary at banquets. 

Wine was intimately connected with most Chinese men of letters. A painting subject based on the poem "The Eight Drunken Immortals" by the Tang dynasty poet Du Fu.