Many Hangzhou locals make their own rice wine before the winter solstice as the low temperature makes the glutinous rice suitable for fermentation.
The traditional way of making rice wine is to soak the cleaned glutinous rice for 24 hours before dumping it into a large wooden barrel with spring water. Then lift it onto a steamer to make it half cooked. Add cold water to cool it down and then drains the water out of the barrel. Next, empty the steamed glutinous rice into a vat and add distiller yeast to it.
Li, a Hangzhou rice wine maker has practiced this traditional way for many years. He mixes the glutinous rice and distiller carefully and covers the vat with a quilt for the first fermentation, adding spring water in another three days before the second-time fermentation.
The brewing of red yeast rice wine in Baizhang town of Yuhang District is quite different. The red yeast is a rhizopus created by fermenting Monascus purpureus.
Ye Zhonggen, a resident of Baizhang's Xikou Village, has more than 40 years of winemaking experience. He puts glutinous rice in a wooden barrel and slowly steams it on a temporary stove. The aroma of the sticky rice quickly fills the room. After heating the rice for 30 minutes, he spreads it on a bamboo tablet to cool it down before combining it with the red yeast and spring water in a huge vat. After 30 days' fermentation, the rice wine will be ready.