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Wreckless Pantry - Snake Wine 101

Snake wine. It looks fearsome, it tastes awful, and it's supposed to have mythical healing powers. In reality, most people react much like Chris, Matt, and Sean did on episode 12 of the Wreckless Eating main show. I've had snake wine before during business trips to Thailand and Vietnam. It comes in a one gallon jar filled a a lot of large snakes with herbs and chili peppers mixed in. It's the first drink I've ever seen rationed to paying customers. The portion was based on your body size-and there were no second helpings. That alone signaled danger. Then there was the taste. It was horrible. It's difficult to describe, but you can taste snake amidst the burning of the intensely powerful alcohol. Thinking back upon the experience made me realize I had to get a bottle for the show.

The process of making snake wine is simple.  Take a venomous snake that is still alive-slit the belly and remove the innards and throw it in a jar of wine while it’s still alive.  The blood and venom mixes with the alcohol and is supposed to give the wine its healing power.  The wine itself is made from rice.  It’s distilled to high potency-I was told the bottle used on the show was 70%.  Sweetener is added to take the edge off the alcohol, but as the contents of the bottle ferment, the sugar turns to alcohol and makes the wine even more potent. 

I have noticed an increase in prices of snake wine on ebay ever since pics were posted of the bottle on Facebook.  While it isn't hard to obtain, there are certain things to look for if you want to purchase a bottle.  First off, if you plan to drink the bottle, stay away from anything that mentions taxidermy.  That’s just a snake in embalming fluid that will hurt you if you drink it.  The smaller bottles with no herbs or peppers should be avoided as well.  A lot of those are sold “for display only” and are filled with rubbing alcohol.  Drinkable snake wine usually has some sort of label that touts its healing abilities.  The liquid will be tinted gold from the snake blood, sugar and herbs that are in the bottle.  If you have any doubts, ask the seller.  I would be cautious about ordering anything from overseas.   The bottle for the show was purchased domestically for roughly $35 including shipping.  From the reaction it got on the show, it was money well spent.