On 6 July 2022 Caxton House successfully hosted “China through a glass of wine” – a public talk on the tradition of wine drinking and viticulture in China, combined with wine tasting thereafter. The event was organised by the Confucius Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine (CITCM) at London South Bank University in collaboration with the Online Confucius Institute at The Open University. Over 100 people from various backgrounds participated either in person or on live Teams streaming.
Prof Deborah Johnston, Pro Vice Chancellor Education of LSBU, opened the event with warm welcoming remarks. The speaker, Janet Wang, author of The Chinese Wine Renaissance, shared with the audience an unfamiliar story of an ancient drinking culture. From the oldest archaeological findings of ‘fermented beverage’ in the world to wine drinking in historical records, poems, and paintings, and from the ancient Silk Road to modern vineyards in China, the audience were presented a captivating approach to China, her wine, and her culture. The talk was followed by a Q&A session. The audience were actively engaged on this fascinating topic for discussion. One participant, for instance, asked about children’s drinking wine in China, and Janet answered the question by reference to the medicinal use of wine and the drinking of medicinal wine during Chinese New Year to ward off illness.
Dr Kan, Director of Online CI, thanked the speaker and, especially, the CITCM team, and indicated the potential benefits for more collaborations with CITCM in the future. Prof Xu, Director of Caxton House and Executive Director of CITCM, expressed his gratitude to Janet for opening up a cultural discussion of drinking, even though the discussions have only skimmed the surface of a boundless ocean of human experience.
At the wine tasting in Caxton House, the participants savoured Chinese wines while discussing the different wine cultures with the speaker and organisers, and among themselves. The audience were extremely appreciative for this special way of fostering opportunities for cross-cultural understanding and exchange. A number of senior academics and managers from both universities attended the event. Prof Antony Moss, Director of Education and Student Experience at LSBU, was especially impressed by the cultural similarity in modern ladette culture in China and Britain. Prof Fary Cachelin, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies at The Open University, commented that this was one of the best talks she has attended recently and said that she found the approach to integrating history, art and wine fascinating.