Snakes in bottles of alcohol for sale in a Laotian Market
What Is Snake Wine, And Is It Safe To Drink?
By Jennifer Waldera
For centuries, snakes have been consumed in East Asian and Southeast Asian dishes, as many believe that they benefit vision issues, hair loss, joint pain, and chronic illnesses. Research suggests venom is useful in preventing future damage from breast cancer, cervical cancer, and leukemia, so you may want to get your daily fix of the reptile through a glass of snake wine.
Snake wine is often sold in markets throughout East and Southeast Asia and is made by sealing a live snake (usually a cobra or viper) in a jar of rice wine or grain alcohol and allowing it to age for several months. Berries, herbs, ginseng or even geckos, smaller snakes, and scorpions are added to infuse more flavor.
The flavor faintly resembles sake and can have a fish or chicken taste that makes it earthy and sweet. Supposedly, there is no danger of becoming ill from the wine as the venom becomes neutralized in the alcohol, but there have been incidents of the snakes surviving after months in the alcohol and attacking the person who opens the bottle.