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Shao Kang in Chinese Wine History

By the end of the Chinese Xia dynasty (2070BC – 1600BC), the modern day Shanxi province developed a wine production industry under Shao Kang’s rule. Shao Kang was the son of King Xiang and the sixth king of the ancient Chinese Xia dynasty.

During Xiang’s rule, Han Zhuo’s two sons, Han Jiao and Han Ji attacked King Xiang and murdered him. However, Shao Kang’s mother, Queen Ji, managed to escape and gave birth to him a few months later. Later, Shao Kang and his followers attacked Han Zhuo. In the battle, he defeated and killed Han Zhou; restoring the Xia Dynasty.

Shao Kang (also known as Du Kang) is considered to be the first recorded winemaker in China. His wines were created from fermented barley mash and various other fruits. The archaeological findings also show that some of his wines were most likely made up of grapes. Started by Shao Kang, the development of grape production and grape wine in the Shanxi province has made it one of China’s most important wine-producing regions.

Evidence from archaeological records associate several traditions with Shao Kang’s winemaking. The evidence suggests that he had good taste in food and drink in his youth. He once planted some grains in a hollow tree, and after a while, he noticed a distinct scent emerging from it. He learned to make wine as a result of this experiment. After that, he was named the “Inventor of Wine” In China. There is no evidence in the literature for the name change from Shao Kang to Du Kang.

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According to a popular saying among the winemakers in China, “One bout of Du Kang’s exquisite wine can make you intoxicated for three years.” Winemakers regard Du Kang as an immortal because of his veneration, and his name has become synonymous with good wine.

Want to read more? Try these books!
Inside the Chinese Wine Industry- The Past, Present, and Future of Wine in China The Chinese Wine Renaissance- A Wine Lover’s Companion

Categories: Country Profiles, This Day in Wine History | ArticlesTags: , By Published On: March 26, 2022Last Updated: February 26, 2024

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