May 4, 2011

White wine is not "baijiu"

As I was browsing through the different varieties of Two Buck Chuck wine available at a Trader Joe's grocery store in California, I noticed a mainland Chinese mother pushing her toddler around in a shopping cart. As she walked past a display area with many bottles of white wine, she pointed to it and said to her child very clearly, "bai jiu" (白酒, literally "white alcohol"). The mother repeated the word a couple times so the kid could learn it.

This bothers me, because in Mandarin, white wine is not baijiu. White wine is "bai putaojiu" (白葡萄酒, literally "white grape alcohol"). She could have just said "putaojiu" (葡萄酒) to the kid to keep it short. Baijiu is a foul-tasting spirit distilled from sorghum and fermented horse manure, and usually comes in around 112 proof. Baijiu not even in the same family as wine. I use baijiu to dissolve the yellow, caked on urine drippings from the outside of my toilet bowl.

Many people in California are well educated about wine. The wine culture is not at the level as in Italy, but Californians tend to understand wine pretty well. Me on the other hand, I mix my Cabernet with Sprite, I put ice cubes in my chardonnay, and I drink pinot from a Solo cup like it's beer at a frat party, so I'm not one to talk.

But anyone should know that white wine is not sorghum-based baijiu. I disapprove of bad parenting, but it's not my place to get involved and correct how this lady wanted to educate her kid, so I said nothing.

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