The first winemaker of China was the legendary Du Kang who lived during the reign of the Yellow Emperor Huangdi, approx. 2600 B.C. The earliest known scientific description on rice wine production in China is the Beishan Jiujing in the North Mountain Rice Wine Book dating back to the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1126 A.D.) The monograph about rice wine making was written around 1100 A.D. by Zhu Yizhong (alias Zhu Gong from Wuxi), Zhejiang. Therefore, the text is as well known as Zhu Yizhong’s Rice Wine Book or Zhu Yizhong jiujing. The “North Mountain” the book’s title refers to is the West Lake near Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.
The book is the first that describes in scientific detail the brewing technology of making yellow wine, and it introduces to a small amount of liquor distillation technology. The work consists of three volumes: The first volume is a general introduction with a historical review about rice wine making, in the second part the production and fermentation technology is detailed, and the third volume explains processes for producing high-quality rice wine and quality control. The sequel Xu Beishan jiujing was written in 1117 by Zhu Gong’s friend Li Bao. Whereas Western cultures associate wine mostly a beverage produced from grapes, in Chinese tradition the word jiu can be understood for a variety of different fermented beverages including millet and rice.
Beishan jiujing is the classic work on rice wine making after the Qimin yaoshu. Whereas the latter is one of the most completely preserved ancient Chinese agricultural texts, the Beishan jiujing is considered the most important source on the history of Chinese food and drink culture.