On which continent did snake wine originate?
Snake wine is an alcoholic beverage produced by infusing whole snakes in rice wine or grain alcohol. The drink was first recorded to have been consumed in China during the Western Zhou dynasty (c. 1040–770 BC).
It is considered to be an important curative according to Traditional Chinese medicine. Snakes are widely believed to possess medicinal qualities and the wine is often advertised to cure everything from farsightedness to hair loss, as well as to increase sexual performance.
It can be found in China, India, Vietnam, and throughout Southeast Asia. The snakes, preferably venomous ones, are not usually preserved for their meat but to have their "essence" and/or snake venom dissolved in the liquor.
The snake venom proteins are quickly unfolded by the ethanol and therefore the completed beverage is safe to drink. The Huaxi street night market of Taipei, Taiwan, is renowned for its snake foods and wine products.
Snakes and their viscera have long been considered by followers of Traditional Chinese medicine to be invaluable for the promotion of vitality and health. Medicinal use of snakes was noted in the medical manual 'Shen nong ben cao jing' compiled between 300 B.C. and 200 A.D.
Snake wine, due to its high alcohol percentage, is traditionally drunk in shot glasses.
It is illegal to import snake wine to many countries because many of the snakes used for its production are endangered species.