Camus is delighted to invite you to a dynamic culture event to learn and experience the Chinese way of toasting and fine dining, with the iconic spirit Moutai and one of its kind Baccarat crystal drink set. Dress code: Elegant with a touch of red.
Well this was a new one for me. Never heard of the Chinese spirit Moutai or used the Baccarat crystal drink set. Intrigued by the idea of learning how to properly toast with a Chinese spirit, I was ready to learn. But first what is Moutai? From Wikipedia: Maotai or Moutai is a brand of baijiu, a distilled Chinese liquor, made in the town of Maotai in China’s Guizhou province. Produced by the state-owned Kweichow Moutai Company, the beverage is distilled from fermented sorghum and now comes in several different varieties. From the box: Made “only in small quantities” yearly, this “small batch blend” is “available only in the finest duty-free shops around the world.” 53% alcohol.
In the course of the evening (photos here) we tasted the spirit in two cocktails and on its own, both the Moutai Small Batch Blend ($275) and the Moutai Legendary China Collection Edition Li Bai ($375). This second edition “honors Li Bai (701-762) regarded as one of the greatest and most prolific poets of the Tang dynasty.”
But, before I get too ahead of myself, before the first cocktail we were entertained by a Chinese calligraphy artist, then before the first sip of Moutai on its own, we were told and shown the proper way to toast with Moutai and told that “in China we greet with spirits, with meaning and with gravity – to the future…Moutai is always considered the national symbol of China” and all Chinese enjoy toasting special occasions with Moutai.
To toast the spirit is poured at room temperature into a tiny glass “invented by Moutai” and then some simple rules are to be followed: Always fill to the rim, hold with both hands to toast each other, the person who wants to show respect to the host, for seniority or to ladies is to bring their glass lower than the person extending the toast. This last part can be quite fun as people will go down to the ground to get their glass lower than their esteemed friend. Then, more rules included “never leave a comrade’s glass empty” so you must help them to fill it. Never drink alone at dinner. If you are toasted then you must toast in return.
Don’t toast before the host toasts – who may toast to each table in the room. Then, and only then, it’s fair game to toast more people. The Li Bai edition was served with small Baccarat red crystal decanters into small round matching crystal glasses.
For me, always the student, after noting all of the rules in toasting I settled in to smell and taste both levels of Moutai. I got strong umami notes, soy sauce, salinity, grilled mushroom and maybe a hint of the terracotta vats the spirit had rested in before bottling.
After that first sip we enjoyed a multi-course Chinese influenced dinner, while listening to different musicians and watching a cultural dance. By the end of the evening, and several more toasts of Moutai – for those that had drivers – I believe everyone attending walked away with not only more knowledge about the Chinese spirit, but an appreciation for Moutai and what China brings to the proverbial global table.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.