In China, there’s a popular saying, “A feast is incomplete without spirits,” signifying that a meal isn’t truly complete without a serving of baijiu. The fundamentals of consuming baijiu are straightforward. In China, baijiu is typically presented pure and at ambient temperature. It is often enjoyed during meals in the presence of others, typically via a sequence of group toasts followed by shots from small glassware and consumed through a sequence of group cheers.
The communal aspect is more intricate. Alcohol consumption in China has a detailed artistry with conventions that date back millennia. The culture of consuming baijiu is intrinsically social, thus the drink often symbolizes vibrant and celebratory communal gatherings. Understanding this code of conduct is crucial for showing proper respect.
Ensure your companion’s cup is full
Drinking is a social activity, look after your companions.
Top off the glass
Offering anything less could be perceived as miserly and unwelcoming.
Raise a toast before sipping
Always consume your Baijiu with a meaningful intent in mind.
Reciprocate every toast
If someone raises a toast to you, it’s better to reciprocate than risk causing insult. But remember to drink responsibly!
Hold your glass lower when clinking
When toasting, hold your glass lower than the other person’s as a sign of respect. Be prepared for them to respond in kind in this friendly competition to the bottom.
Finish your shot entirely
The phrase “ganbei” (empty the glass) exists for a purpose.
Don’t propose a toast before the host
The host generally raises the first few toasts. After that, anyone at the table can propose a toast.
Don’t make a thoughtless toast
It’s preferable to abstain from toasting altogether than to deliver a half-hearted one.
Don’t be anxious about getting a little tipsy
There’s no social embarrassment in enjoying drinks heartily. The host’s duty is to serve as much as you desire. Your task is to have a good time.