Anyone for some snake wine? According to Brady Ng of Munchies, a good snake wine should taste like a meal in a shot glass. Snake wine is made by drowning a live snake in a vessel of strongly alcoholic rice wine, often accompanied by herbs and spices or smaller reptiles like geckos.
The video below went viral this week as western viewers shared their shock and horror at the cruelty involved in producing the beverage which is popular in Vietnam, Korea and China. Leaving aside the issues of animal cruelty, here at Food Fraud Advisors we were asking these questions:
Is the snake wine in this video authentic? Sure looks like it! Authenticity depends solely on how the finished product is marketed, so provided that the seller does not claim it was made with cobra and special rice wine if it really contains a plain old garden python and cheap grain alcohol, it could be considered ‘authentic’. Read more about authenticity here.
Is the snake wine in this video legal? Perhaps. Its manufacturing methods may breach laws about endangered species and animal cruelty, and I can’t make any comment on whether it complies with the local liquor excise laws and taxes, but the finished product itself probably meets basic food safety laws in most of South East Asia.
Is the snake wine in this video safe to drink? Probably. The alcohol in the wine denatures any venom in the snake and does a great job of controlling any microbial hazards. And I’m told a well-aged snake wine tastes pretty good. Just make sure the snake is truly dead before you open the bottle, or you could meet the same fate as this woman in China.