September 1, 2011

Plum Wine of Yunnan

The plum is dear to the heart of the Chinese any where in the world. Growing up I was trained to use salted plums to steam our fish with - making a very nice salty and yet sweet sauce. Whenever we felt sickly a sour plum or two would change our whole being. Whenever we were short of money we would only spend the little we had on a small packet of sour plums (som moi or suan mei) for that amount of money would not be enough to buy a bowl of noodles. It was no wonder many of my friends suffered from gastric problems in those days.

We heard from our grandmother how wonderful plum wine was - how it could warm up bodies in winter or help a woman or a man to get over grieving. Plum wine was also to help people celebrate a birth or a birthday. Plum wine was served at weddings or housewarming. Growing plums in the backyard and especially in a large garden has thus been very sustainable kind of agriculture. Today it is a stronger crop than ever.

Now most of us are in our 5th or 6th decade we have a chance to visit our ancestors' countries and see the real plums with our own eyes. What an experience it was.

China is the world's largest plum producer with an average of 5 million tons per year.

And the local Yunan plum wine is a smooth and fruity wine with 12% alcohol content.The plum is a stone fruit (Prunus) and the flowers are in groups of one to five together on short stems. The fruit has a characteristic groover running down one side. It has a smooth stone or pit

Mature fruits have a dusty-white coating which gives a glaucous appearance which can be rubbed off easily.

Yunnan produces one of the best plum wines in the world. So it is not surprising to find huge wine jars decorating the lobby of a hotel or a restaurant. Glass jars made in China with taps for easy filling of glasses also make service easier. You can also order plum wines in factory (export quality) packed bottles.

Plums and other fruits are pickled or salted. You can be spoilt when living in Yunnan.
Export Quality Plum Wine - Yunnan may one day be the best wine producing area in Asia. The people of Yunnan has been making wines for centuries!! Home brewed wines are very popular and would always make any diner happy.

My old friend's prepared a meal of chicken and millet,
And invited me to join him at his farmhouse.
The village is surrounded by green trees,
Blue hills slope up beyond the city wall.
The window opens onto the vegetable garden,
Where holding wine, we talk of mulberry and hemp.
We are looking forward to the autumn festival,
When I'll return to see the chrysanthemums bloom.
– Meng Haoran (Tang Dynasty poet), Visiting An Old Friend On His Farm source

Thus  -  I end this post with a Chinese quotation:


Anonymous said...


I really like dry sour plum. Especially the drink with lime. Sabahan called their Kitchai and Sarawakian called it somboi chui. Do they have sweet pum over there in Yunnan?? A lot of cultivated temperate fruits originated from China, Apple is one of them. That has got to do with long hostory of civilization???

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Anaonymous..China in general has different kinds of plums including wee plum..Yunnan in particular also has many different kinds of plums (I was very surprised) and I have learnt enough yet to know everything!!
China is now the world's greatest apple producer and it is because she has 3.5 billion people as a ready market!!

Thanks for visiting.

Ann said...

I guess you didn't only want the little bottle but the whole Vat.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yeah...if only I could bring back the whole VAT!!! That big thing would cost RM300..I asked the millionaire hostelier already...His wife is younger than I by 2 years.. They are of the Miao tribe...very lucrative business in hotels now.

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