An Old Bottle of Shaoxing Wine

My Travel to Shaoxing China

This is how I found Shaoxing Wine. Way back in January 2008, I was asked if I was interested in going to China to teach English.  I said “No”, but then was asked to attend a presentation about teaching in China.  I had a teaching degree and had started a course on teaching English (TESOL) though I had been doing so for a while.  Anyway, after the presentation, I returned home with a contract to teach at a college in Shaoxing, south of Shanghai in China.  I do have the ability to make quick decisions, but this one was to cause me a lot of stress over the next few weeks.   I only had a few weeks to prepare – and little time to do much research, so early in February, I set off on an amazing adventure.

Flight to China

Just days before I boarded the plane in Brisbane for this adventure, I met two guys, both named Michael, who were also going to the same college.  Two new friends.  We were in the same plane but seated scattered around the plane and apart from a quick chat before the flight, we didn’t see each other until we reached Singapore.  We had a few hours before we departed and spent more time than we needed in Harry’s Bar, which I don’t think is still there.

When eventually, in the afternoon, we reached Shanghai, and we wandered into what looked like a construction or demolition site.  It was, we learned later, the latter.  A few weeks later the new Pudong Airport was to open, and this old one was being emptied and businesses had gone leaving a chaotic scene.  Eventually (they were late) a group from the college arrived to take us from Shanghai to Shaoxing, a trip of 200 km.

Winter Be Gone

It was my first ever visit China.  It was the end of winter, and still, everyone seemed to be rugged up against the cold.  What I found rather alarming was that there were few or no leaves on most of the trees that we saw.  It all looked gloomy and depressing.  We made the trip arriving in Shaoxing around 8 or 9 pm.  I can’t recall exactly, but it was dark.  We were shown our small apartments but learned quickly that there were little or no facilities.  No food, cups etc.  M1 (I called the two Michaels by numbers – M1 and M2) had been to the college previously, so he lead us in the dark to a strange supermarket not far from the West Gate of the college.  Despite the challenges of language, we managed to source a few food and kitchen items before returning to campus.

Hello Shaoxing Wine

Now, I cannot recall when I was introduced to this famous product.  But I do recall some weeks later, “trialling” this wine, which has a long history in Shaoxing.  I remember buying a bottle in the supermarket and taking a sip to see how it tasted.  I do know now, that it is a popular ingredient in cooking, but at that time I tasted it as a drinking liquid.  Mmm.  I am so glad that I eventually found real wine, and later a shop that had a wonderful supply of more familiar drinking liquid – Australian wine.  I remember visiting an old historic town where there were big clay pots full of Shaoxing Wine.

Now to 2010.

The story I want to tell starts in 2010.  I’ve written about it elsewhere, the journey of being lost on the way to an old town, eventually getting there and wandering around the old village.  Then I heard someone call my name.  Loudly.  “Dianna, Dianna”.  It was one of my former students who had just opened a wine shop in the village.  My friends and I wandered in and looked around.  I bought a small bottle of Shaoxing Wine.  Yes, it was around 12 years ago, and I still have the bottle.  Unopened.

An Old Bottle of Shaoxing Wine 1

My  Shaoxing Wine

I have had it all this time and have not used a drop.  The label is still with it, the little plaited string holder, and the red silk fabric top.  I was sorting some things out in the kitchen, kitchen and I retrieved it from its “hiding place”.  What to do with it now? I have found some recipes so will “test” it soon.





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About Di Hill

My business card says "Writer, Traveller, Camera Addict, Bamboo Fan, Workshop Presenter." This website will focus on my writing - and the workshops I present. Workshops on Blogging, Marketing for Writers, and Life Story Writing.
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