Thai Homemade Sato

I don’t really drink much these days, but New Year celebrations being what they usually are I do acquiesce and imbibe on occasion. Every year a good friend of mine goes home to Mahasarakham and asks if I’d like some of mom’s homemade wine, which I of course can never refuse.

Homemade SatoSato is a common home-brewed beverage in and around Isaarn, there are also several commercially available varieties such as Siam Sato. It is a sweet rice wine that can vary wildly in alcohol content, but is usually not much stronger than a stout beer.

The store bought stuff is, in a word, lousy. It is flat, metallic, and has no real redeeming qualities. The homemade Sato, however, is a totally different animal – quite literally.

Homemade wineAs you can see in the pictures there is quite a bit of debris floating around in the wine. Bits of rice and strands of live culture bob and bubble around, continuing the fermentation process even when the wine is chilled. It is still very much alive.

Not drinking much, I have to periodically take the wine out of the fridge and release some of the gas in the bottle so it doesn’t blow up. The refrigeration slows the fermentation enough that the cultures don’t eat all the sugar and turn my wine into rice vinegar. I’ll have a glass or two a week for the next month at least if I don’t let the bottle blow.

Homemade wines in ThailandHomemade wines are also a lot safer than homemade or bootleg liquors. Sloppy distillation techniques can make a brew that will blind or even kill you.

If you ever manage to get into bad wine,

A: you’ll know you have before you swallow any of it, B: if you do manage to swallow enough to make you sick you’ll just throw it back up as it’s will most likely be a tenacious bacteria and not something to do with heavy metals or other serious toxins.

If you do, however, have a taste for moonshine here are two golden rules –

1: if it tastes like lead, or coins, or anything metallic don’t drink it and, 2: if looking at the person selling it makes you feel itchy, maybe a little nervous, or perhaps like you should be flossing more often – don’t drink it! People expect hard spirits to taste a little nasty, so it’s easy to overlook the signs that might indicate contamination. Wine we expect to taste good, and so are much less likely to tolerate any funny smells or less than pleasant flavor notes.

Otherwise it’s bottoms up and cares to the wind today, and let’s hope that the spicy noodles and ginger tea can bring us back to life tomorrow.

People who read this also read: