In fact, Snake wine from Vietnam is not a typical drink of Vietnamese culture. "Most Vietnamese people have never eaten snake meat, let alone drank snake wine and snake blood wine" quoted by the director of the Animals Asia Foundation. So what snake wine really is and why is it famous among international tourists visiting Vietnam?
I - The origin of snake wine from Vietnam
In fact, snake wine does not come from Vietnamese cuisine but it is a variation from the traditional knowledge of Chinese medicine. Accordingly, this drink first appeared in 771 BC of the Western Zhou Dynasty with the record to enhance the health and vitality of men. Later it continued to be recorded in many China medical books such as 神农 本草 经, 本草綱目 (Shennong Materia Medica, Compendium of Materia Medica).
Venomous snakes - indispensable parts of Vietnamese snake wine - Source: Jan Kubita
This knowledge began to be introduced in Vietnam when the Chinese applied Confucian culture, Oriental medicine, etc. in the war of invasion and domination of Vietnam for over 1,000 years. Over many historical periods, this concept has been ingrained in the subconscious and belief of many Vietnamese people, and gradually became a "unique - strange" drink that many tourists pay attention to.
II - Snake wine price in Vietnam
You can easily find snake wine or similar products at many stores throughout Vietnam, especially in mountainous areas, because these areas are rich in materials. Many "snake villages" in Vietnam such as Le Mat village in Hanoi, and Vinh Son village in Vinh Phuc province still live on raising snakes, so you can easily purchase several bottles of authentic snake wine and enjoy snake dishes in local restaurants. The price ranges from 150,000 to 1,200,000 VND/liter ($6.46 - 51.72), depending on the quantity, the type, and the size of the snake,...
III - How is snake wine from Vietnam made?
Snakes chosen for alcohol immersion are often venomous snakes such as cobras, banded krait, and krait,... The snakes in Vietnam before being soaked in alcohol have their own bloodstream and the viscera removed, the bile and heart are probably retained. There are also some cases when indigenous people will soak the whole snake (even an alive one) in wine jars.
Some kinds of snake wine in Vietnam can be mentioned as:
- One-snake wine - soaked with one cobra.
- Two-snake wine - immersion of two cobras of equal size.
- Three-snake wine - soaked in three types of snakes are cobra, krait, and Ptyas mucosus
- Five-snake wine - soaked in five types of snakes, including cobra, krait, Chinese krait, and Ptyas mucosus
After being cleaned, the snake is soaked with rice wine - a type of wine that is manually fermented, distilled in Vietnam, has a sweet taste, and high alcohol content (about 30-40%) while that of common wine is only about 30-35%.
Real speciality of Vietnam snake wine - Source: Internet
While soaking, you can combine it with a few herbs of traditional medicine such as Ha Thu O (Fallopia multiflora), Ke huyet dang (Millettia Reticulata L),... or other animals such as seahorse, tokay gecko, deer antler...The time for soaking must be at least 03-10 days to ensure the safety and wait for 100 days to achieve the desired taste, according to the local folks’ opinion. You should only drink up to 10-25ml at a time and preferably at dinner to feel the positive effects of the snake wine from Vietnam on the body.
You must take great consideration before deciding to try this drink because if the soaking time is not long enough for the active ethanol in alcohol to absorb and break the snake's venom, it is very dangerous. Moreover, the sale and consumption of snake products also "contributed" to pushing this animal to the brink of extinction.
Note that people in the following group are absolutely not advisable to drink Vietnamese snake liquor:
- People with poor kidney and liver function, and easily get allergies, urticaria, rashes.
- People with high blood pressure, heart or gout may see bad effects from snake wine
- Solid secretion alcohol also easily leads to the risk of parasitic infection.
Because of the strangeness in the processing method and the urge to verify whether this Vietnamese drink is as miraculous as it is said by Vietnamese people in particular and Southeast Asia in general, there are many curious tourists who want to taste snake wine from Vietnam. Enjoying a glass of solid blood wine or swallowing a snake heart is definitely an extremely shocking experience, which is attractive to young tourists.