CHEERS series | Guinea pigs, mooncakes & Usain Bolt vs a Champagne cork

I’ve been writing some short pieces for CHEERS wine the past few months, on pressing issues like word of a Chinese ban on Australian wine, on less pressing issues such as whether Usain Bolt or a Champagne cork is faster, and on stuff in between, like what wines to pair with spicy food. Here’s a quick look at the series thus far.

Year in the Wild

CHEERS CEO Claudia Masueger has been stuck in the wild–the Swiss alps!–most of the past year. How does she manage CHEERS from afar, what wine trends does she see in the China market, and what bottle will she open first upon her return?

Wine, Tea, Baijiu & Cheese

This isn’t a sexy term – geographical indications. But it matters for many goods that excite our senses, from the tongue-tingling sparkling wine of Champagne to the sublime tea of Pu’er to the umami-loaded baijiu of Guizhou and cheese of Emilia-Romagna.

Friends, Dumplings & Wine

A Spring Festival highlight is getting together with family and friends to make dumplings. It’s also fun to see the different styles of dumpling makers. My friend’s Mom, for example, makes picture perfect dumplings, while mine look like a five-year-old somehow got into the baijiu. And for those who wish to enjoy a drink with their dumplings, or even while making them, there are numerous worthy options.

Try an 8000-year-old Wine

Want to try 8,000-year-old wine? Then check out Georgia, a nation about the size of Ningxia or double Hainan, with 500-plus grape varieties, and a living wine history like no other.

DIY Wine Cocktails

It’s Chinese New Year, you’ve sipped and savored a few good bottles, now it’s time to crush a bunch of wine cocktail-style.

That’s Amarone

“When the new grapes are dried, and their sweetness is high, that’s Amarone.”

Apologies, but the unique wine Amarone compelled me to create new lyrics for the Italian-themed song “That’s Amore.”

Year of the Ox Stocks

Where to start for your Year of the Ox e-gatherings? If you are the type who enjoys themes, give Tussock Jumper Monastrell from Spain a try, not least because the label features a bull — close enough to an ox for me.

Magnums, Fossils & Nebuchadnezzar

How many grapes does it take to make a bottle of wine? Which country has a 17th-century vine that still bears fruit? What’s a 15-liter bottle called? All this info and more in the following 21 wine tidbits for 2021.

How Dry Is Your January?

For me, Dry January means enjoying dry wine. We saw in 2020 how fast the world can change, so who knows what could happen in one month! I’ll keep steadily enjoying my wine, thank you very much.

Down Under Stock Up

Uncertainty about the fate of Australian wine in China means stocking up on your favorites from Down Under is a good idea, says Matt Bahen, who supplies brands from De Bortoli to CHEERS.

“It’s going to be especially tough going into the holidays,” says Bahen. “But a ban is better than another fire or drought.” Link.

Hot Stuff

Do you enjoy pleasant walks on Beijing streets? Fun games with cool prizes? The soul-warming goodness of fresh mulled wine? And German dudes lighting sugar bread on fire to create that special drink — aka gluehwein — old-timey style? Then join the CHEERS mulled wine charity walk on November 15! Link.

Grape Expectations

Last week, as you enjoyed mid-Autumn feasts with family, raised glasses (ganbei!) with friends, and possibly heard for the umpteenth time you are too old to be single, thousands of people around the world were busy picking grapes

Grapes are basically the most unreliable employees in history. They just don’t care about being on time. Here in China, I know wineries in the west that harvested their grapes two to three weeks early this year, while others in the east are picking two to three weeks late. That’s a six-week difference. Such a fickle fruit! Link.

Pizza Represents My Heart

If you’ve had your fair share of mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival, why not take inspiration from this 1953 song and indulge in another food that evokes our nearest celestial body: pizza. That’s amore.

This moon-shaped treat is most excellent because, one, it is easy to share, and two, it is fun with wine. And because both are easily delivered, it takes little effort to organize a pizza and wine party at home. Link.

Guinea Pigs & Gran Reserva

Remember in July, when we celebrated Switzerland and learned it is illegal to own a single guinea pig because it might get lonely? And that such laws don’t exist in other countries?

That’s kind of how it is with wine terms such as “reserve” or “grand reserve.” Link.

CHEERS to Wine Educators

Wine isn’t part of the school curriculum for most of us. Thirsty eight-year-olds don’t have lessons about Bordeaux vs Napa blends sandwiched between math class and history class. Studious teens aren’t taking school trips to do barrel tastings at the local winery. And rare is the teacher who carries corkscrews in pocket or stocks decanters in the classroom.

Still, as we age and mature in life, many of us have found people to guide us in the world of wine, and I salute such knowledge givers on Teacher’s Day. Link.

New Math: Mooncake = Wine

Wine is the new mooncake. Seriously, do you know how many calories a mooncake contains? Even your standard traditional mooncake–with a baked crust and lotus seed paste filling–has over 700 calories! By some counts, that’s equal to two cheeseburgers. Two slices of pizza. Or a typical bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from France.

Eat two mooncakes and you just had the caloric equivalent of two bottles of wine. Eat more and your body might start resembling the shape of the moon itself. Link.

Qixi & The Mother-in-Law from Heaven / Hell

Love is hard. Consider the Qixi Festival, also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day, on August 25. It’s a classic rich girl-poor boy story. But a thousand times crazier.

In short, a bored – and single – cloud weaver flies from the Heavens to Earth. She marries a cow farmer, has children and almost lives happily ever after. Link.

Five-minute Wine Expert

Open a typical bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Chenin Blanc from South Africa and Chardonnay from California, pour a glass of each one, and sniff and sip them a few times.

Then close your eyes. Ask a friend to hand you a random glass. What’s the grape?

You’ll be surprised – and fulfilled – at how easily you identify that zippy vegetal Sauvignon Blanc. Or fresh fruity Chenin Blanc. Or rich buttery Chardonnay. Link.

Kittens vs Tigers

Don’t bring a kitten to a tiger fight. That’s my rule when it comes to wine and Sichuan hotpot.

Many people suggest pairing sweat-inducing hotpot with light off-dry Riesling – that’s a kitten. But I find it goes better with bigger bolder riper wine – a juicy fruit bomb. Tiger versus tiger. Link.

Usain Bolt vs Champagne Cork

Quick quiz. How fast does a Champagne cork explode from a bottle? Up to 40 km per hour.

That’s slightly quicker than Usain Bolt’s 100-meter and 200-meter gold medal runs at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Link.

Good content takes resources. If you find Grape Wall useful, help cover its costs via PayPal, WeChat or credit / debit card. Also check out Grape Wall on Facebook. Twitter and Instagram. And sibling sites World Marselan DayWorld Baijiu Day and Beijing Boyce.

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