Rượu Cần

Rượu cần is an indigenous Vietnamese wine fermented in jugs for a month and enjoyed through a long straw.

Lastest Updated January 5, 2024
Verified by A-Z Cuisines Team
  • Traditional
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Fact: Drinking Rượu Cần typically involves two or more people, and it’s usually an even number.

Basic Information

Rượu Cần: Basic Information

Pronunciation

/ruə̯ kən/

Alternative Name(s)

No

Drink Type

Fermented alcoholic beverages

Mealtime

Anytime
Origin and Region

Rượu Cần: Origin and Region

Origin

Vietnam

Continent’s Region

Southeast Asia

Country’s Region

Northwest Vietnam, Central Highlands

Associated Region

Tay Nguyen, Tay Bac
Vietnam Map
Popular Variation
Popular Variation
Popular Variation

Popular Rượu Cần Variations

Ingredients and Preparation

Rượu Cần: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients

Glutinous rice or rice

Main Preparing Method

Fermenting

Preparation Process

Cooking the grains and then mixing them with local herbs, roots, and yeast, placing the mixture in a large earthenware jar or similar vessel, and covering it to ferment and produce alcohol.
A Deep Dive

Rượu Cần: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

A traditional beverage of various ethnic groups, especially in Tay Nguyen and Tay Bac regions; symbolizes community and togetherness.

Taste

Bitter, sweet

Texture

Smooth, liquid

Aroma

Slight alcohol smell with the scent of herbs used

Color

Typically clear or slightly cloudy

Serving Style

From a shared jar with long bamboo straws

Serving Temperature

At room temperature

Accompaniment

Often consumed on its own

Occasions

Festivals, weddings

Calories

Unspecified

Popularity

Northwest Vietnam, Central Highlands (Tây Nguyên and Tây Bắc regions)

Popular Similar Drinks

  1. Rượu Đế
  2. Lao-lao
  3. Tapuy
  4. Choujiu

Popular Dining Area

Local homes, communal houses (nhà rông), or outdoor community events in Vietnam’s Central Highlands and Northwest regions

Rượu cần is a traditional Vietnamese fermented wine crafted from glutinous rice, rice, or other grains and many local herbs.

Ruou Can Overview

It’s fermented in earthenware jugs for at least a month and without distillation, resulting in an alcohol content of 15-25%.

What makes rượu cần distinctive from other wines in Vietnam is its unique way of consumption, in which people share the same jug to drink rượu cần through individual long bamboo straws.

Rượu cần is also a specialty wine of some ethnic groups living in Vietnam with various names, for example, Nơm Yăng in Mnông language, Tpei ché in Jarai language, Đ’rắp S’lung or Rơ nơm Đ’rắp in Stiêng language, or Tơ Nơm in K’ho language.

Overall, this is commonly consumed in Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) and Tay Bac (Northwest) areas of the country.

In Montagnard tradition (indigenous groups in Vietnam’s Central Highlands), rượu cần is normally reserved for harvest celebrations, festivals, weddings, and hosting guests.

People enjoy it around a fire or in communal houses, often followed by dancing and music.

In the upcoming sections, you’ll comprehend the world of rượu cần, exploring its ingredients, crafting techniques, and diverse variations.

Additionally, I’ll address some positive sides and shortcomings, common inquiries about this fermented wine, and other similar beverage alternatives.

Key Points

  • Rượu cần is a Vietnamese fermented wine made from grains like rice or glutinous rice, with added herbs and medicinal ingredients.
  • It has a distinctive way of consumption using long bamboo straws shared from the same jug.
  • It is popular in the Central Highlands and Northwest regions of Vietnam.
  • It is commonly enjoyed during harvest celebrations, festivals, weddings, and communal gatherings.
  • The drinking etiquette and order vary among different ethnic groups in Vietnam, emphasizing respect and tradition.

What Are Ingredients and Tools To Make Rượu Cần?

The main ingredients for the wine are common grains like rice or glutinous rice, corn, cassava, millet, or seeds.

Another component is wine yeast made from forest leaves with essential oils, traditional medicinal herbs, ginger, galangal, etc.

For the tool, rượu cần is stored in a vessel called hũ, bình, chum, choé, or ché in Vietnam.

To drink it, bamboo straws are must-have items, which are prepared by fire-treating, straightening, hollowing, and bending.

In addition, tools like hollowed buffalo horns or pots are used for adding water to the wine containers.

After exploring the ingredients and tools used to make rượu cần, it leads us to discover its diverse variations.

What Are Variations of Rượu Cần?

With the information below, you can dive into the world of rượu cần variants and their interesting features.

Ruou Can Tay Bac

A specialty of Hòa Bình and Sơn La in Northwestern Vietnam.
Two types: Sweet yeast wine for women, with a sugary taste, and strong yeast wine for men, with a bitter, potent flavor.
Comes in three jar sizes: small for couples, medium for groups of 4-8, and large for 10-14 people.
Consumed from a jar using bamboo straws.
Each jar has at least four flexible bamboo straws for drinking.

Ruou Can Tay Nguyen

Popular in the Tay Nguyen area (the central highland of Vietnam).
Made from corn, cassava, or regular rice, and glutinous rice
Process: Cook rice, mix with rice husk, dry, and ferment with leaf yeast from forest trees.
Flavorful, refreshing, and considered healthy, stimulating digestion.
Only one straw used, passed with hands always holding it, covering the tip.
Rhade and M’nong people have a distinct drinking order, emphasizing respect and etiquette.
Jars of rượu cần Tây Nguyên are decorated. Old ones are higher in value.

Thai-style Ruou Can

The method is known as “láu xá.”
Uses leaf yeast from forest plants and other components like galangal root, betel leaves, chili peppers, etc, then ground with broken rice.
Ingredients are fermented in 15 to 20 days.
Longer storage enhances the quality.

Muong Style Ruou Can

Muong community calls drinking rượu cần “vít khoè” (twisting the wine straw).
Stored underground for 100 days, served next to a copper bowl of clear spring water.
Muong people use multiple straws, one for each person, to drink communally
Drinking stops only when the session leader signals, and leaving mid-way results in a penalty.

Continuing with the discussion, you’ll have a broader view of rượu cần through the overview of its advantages and disadvantages.

Pros and Cons of Drinking Rượu Cần

To make an informed choice regarding rượu cần, it’s a good idea to refer to the table below, which summarizes its benefits and drawbacks.

Pros

  • Cultural Impact: Rượu cần is one of the most popular wines in some ethnic groups in Vietnam.
  • Social Bonding: Sharing Rượu Cần in a group setting can strengthen social connections
  • Symbolic Ritual: It can be used in spiritual rituals and offerings.

Cons

  • Limited Accessibility: Finding authentic Rượu Cần outside of Vietnam can be challenging, limiting its availability for those abroad

Next, you’ll explore the typical questions that are frequently raised about this traditional Vietnamese fermented wine.

Rượu Cần FAQs

It involves rituals, hierarchical drinking orders, and communal sharing of the beverage through a long bamboo straw.

Rượu cần serves as an offering to deities, a means of communication with supernatural beings, and a way to bond with friends, share emotions, and strengthen relationships.

Rượu cần can be found both as homemade versions, often crafted with care and tradition, and in commercially available forms for easier consumption.

Similar Beverages of Rượu Cần

Ruou De

Rượu đế is a traditional Vietnamese spirit, typically distilled from rice or other grains with a high alcohol content.

Adam Sam

Adam Sam

Senior Food and Drink Editor

Expertise

Food Writer & Recipe Developer, Recipe Tester, Bartender, Cooking-video Maker, Editor In Chief

Education

  • University of Gastronomic Sciences – Pollenzo (Italy) (MA Food Culture, Communication & Marketing)
  • Johnson & Wales University (US) (Baking and Pastry Arts)
  • Professional Bartender at HNAAu School (Vietnam, International Joint Training Program)

Adam Sam, an experienced food writer and recipe developer, is passionate about blending diverse culinary traditions, national dishes, and innovative beverages, showcasing his proficiency in both traditional and modern recipe testing.

As the Editor-in-Chief, he elevates culinary content from street food to fine dining, focusing on Western cuisine and types of drinks at azcuisines.com, and is professional in creating engaging cooking videos that simplify complex dishes and ingredients.

His passion for food is evident in his writing, where he uniquely merges various cultures, traditions, and contemporary trends, skillfully combining classic recipes with modern cooking methods.

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