Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Monday, March 17, 2008

Will Tibetan Wine Free Tibet?

Over half the countries in the world produce wine. A while back I wrote about Thai wine. Tonight I had some Pinot Grigio from Roumania with my Corned Beef and Cabbage. Wine is ubiquitous, but what's it got to do with freedom. Well, first there is the freedom to drink wine, then there is the freeing of the tongue and mind that can come with drinking wine, finally, horror of horrors, wine can be enslaving for some people. Anyway, it's a good excuse to write about an old passion of mine - Tibet.

Tibetans have been drinking Chang or Qiang for many years. Made from barley, it is a central part of Tibetan culture to say nothing of providing central heating for the body in a, ahem, cold climate. Barley wine is a major beverage made from barley grown on the highlands. Barley wine is light yellow, mild and sweet and sour. It is low in alcohol and varies in taste depending on the brewing method and duration of fermentation. Sounds more like beer to me or mead. Look what Mead did for Beowulf.

Barley wine is an integral part of Tibetan culture and thus a potential antidote to " cultural genocide." Barley wine is a common gift and a requirement at any Tibetan Wedding. Barley wine is used to welcome guests and symbolizes connection to sky, earth and Buddha. Based in Lhasa, Tibet ZangYuan Brewing Company was founded in 2000 and produces a variety of barley wines ( http://www.qingkejiu.com.cn/ ).

Someone on the net described the current protests as the Tibetan Intifada. In fact, Tibetans have become the new Jews of Asia (The Jew in the Lotus - Rodger Kamenetz). Let us hope they will not have to wait two thousand years to regain their homeland. I once heard the Dalai Lama speak at a health conference. When he came to the Tibetan word for compassion he consulted his interpreter and chose the term "good - heart." The Tibetans surely could use some good heartedness right now. Will wine free Tibet? Wine freed the Persian poet and mystic Rumi. Perhaps it will help free Tibet. Oh, BTW, Happy Saint Patrick's Day. Green wine, anyone?

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