With a little wine at work

Updated: 2011-10-19 08:37

By Liu ce (China Daily)

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With a little wine at work

Tong Jinping, 48, one of the first graduates to major in fermentation, savors a sip of rice wine in the cellar of Shenyang T&C Laolongkou Brewery in Liaoning province on Oct 14. [Liu Ce / China Daily]

SHENGYANG - Tong Jinping's job is drinking on the job.

One sip at a time.

Walking among an array of more than 300 large jars of rice wine, Tong uncovers the red seals one by one, scoops out a mouthful with a transparent glass, examines the color and takes in its aroma.

She savors a sip, letting it linger in her mouth for a while before swallowing.

After jotting down notes on the wine, she moves on to the next meter-high jar.

Then she does it again, and again.

"Sometimes the substances in the liquor make my tongue dark after a day's work," said the 48-year-old Tong, a rice wine appraiser at the 350-year-old Shenyang T&C Laolongkou Brewery.

One of the first graduates to major in fermentation, she stood out from her classmates with her very sensitive smell and taste.

"Most people can't tell the differences. It needs skill," she said. "Yet skill doesn't make you an excellent taster without practice."

On her office desk sit more than 100 bottles of various liquors. One of her daily routines is to pour out five at random with colleagues and guess which it is.

It's not a good job, however, for women who care a lot about their looks.

Because cosmetics can interfere with the perception of smells, Tong never puts on make-up at work and only applies scentless products.

"When I see others wearing make-up, I'm always jealous and frustrated. I only use cosmetics on festivals and holidays."

"We have to wash our hands with scentless soap before tasting, which makes our hands very dry. So the hand cream runs out quickly," Tong said.

Such adversity hasn't dimmed her personality, however.

"I never saw her get angry. Her voice is always tender and mild. Even her step is always unhurried," said her colleagueCao Ying.

What Tong is most afraid of is catching a cold. She wears masks and mufflers in winter when the temperature drops.

"Looking pretty is not a concern at that time," she said.

Having such a keen nose isn't always a pleasant experience. Easily smelling bad breath or body odor when she is on a bus or walking in a crowd makes her want to shun places where people gather.

"I can't stand bad smells. I wear a mask even in summer when I take a bus," she said.

Her 25-year-old son Yue Pengfei said her mom's fear of germs is killing him.

"When I'm back home from work, no matter how hungry I am, as soon as I get home I have to ask her, 'Disinfect first or eat?'" he said.

He said the dishes and floor have to be washed at least twice to meet Tong's standards for a clean and scent-free environment.

Having worked with alcohol for two decades, Tong doesn't like drinking, and dislikes beers the most. However, she might take a sip of wine at a banquet, or if she finds a new variety.

"What I like the most is to drink water. It indicates my life, plain and true," she said.