A woman was recently hospitalized when a snake bit her as she opened her bottle of snake wine in Shuangcheng, China. True story? This is not the first time this has happened, and yes, people drink this stuff.
Liu (the woman) bought a live snake and preserved it in wine to cure her rheumatism. She says she drank snake wine often, as it helped with the inflammation. The snake, however was still alive after spending three months in an alcohol filled bottle. When Liu opened the bottle to add more spirits, the snake attacked her, Global Times reports.
So let’s start at the beginning. Chinese snake wine. We use the term “wine” loosely, like as in “not wine”. Snake wine is an alcoholic beverage produced by infusing whole snakes in rice wine (bai jiou) or grain alcohol. The drink is believed to cure many ailments and reinvigorate a person according to Traditional Chinese medicine. It can also be found in Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia.
The snakes, preferably venomous ones, are not usually preserved for their meat but to have their “essence” and snake poison dissolves in the liquor. The snake venom is inactivated by the miracle of ethanol.
…and it tastes awful. The snake itself can’t really be tasted. The rubbing alcohol-esque “wine” is enough to burn out your tastebuds so it is all you taste… for the next several days.
How to make snake wine, then get attacked by a snake
- Buy some bai jiou and put it in a jug or jar.
- Purchase a live snake, preferably the meanest and most “spirited” one you can find.
- Place said snake in said chinese wine.
- Let stand for three months.
- Open lid to add more alcohol.
- Get attacked by one pissed off snake.
In Asia, I have seen everything from ginseng to lizards floating in bai jiou, all with their own medicinal properties. Do they work? Who knows. I can tell you the ones I have had taste really bad, just like medicine in fact…
SAFETY TIP: Do not burp, EVER, after drinking bai jiou.