Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Mouse Wine Cures What Ails You

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Do you want to cure your children of ever developing a fondness for rice wine? Here’s the perfect solution! [1:08]

This is a delicacy in rural Korea, it appears. They take a litter of two to three-day old mice, jam them into a bottle of rice wine, leave them to fermet for a year or so, thereby creating ricey-mice, and then they drink it.


  1. #1 Paul
    October 31, 2007

    But, how do the mice taste?

  2. #2 David Weinstock
    October 31, 2007

    Nah. I don’t think so. Can’t be true. Jake trying to start an urban legend. And if you did put mice into wine, they would not ferment. Wine only ferments until the alcohol content kills off the yeast. God, I hope I’m right.

  3. #3 dave X
    October 31, 2007

    Ack! a fecal pellet at about end-10 seconds. Not that that would be the first do-not-want signal.

  4. #4 Bob O'H
    October 31, 2007

    There’s a German wine called “Happy Cat”. I’m starting to wonder about it now…


  5. #5 "GrrlScientist"
    October 31, 2007

    do you mean to tell me that “happy cat” wine doesn’t contain copious quantities of catnip??

    i feel sick now.

  6. #6 asteroid
    October 31, 2007

    this is a hoax. although most major blogs have posted it by now, it is false. ask any korean you can find and i bet they will never have heard of it. the video here is pixelated, indicating the images of the fetal mice may have been added. additionally, many of the blogs that have listed this nonsense have images of the supposed product, but with the labels in chinese.

    don’t forget to fact-check your stories; other blogs are not reliable, even if they all post the same thing. your blog is typically too good to fill with this bigoted crap.

  7. #7 "GrrlScientist"
    October 31, 2007

    i expected it was a hoax, but was amused by the video anyway. i suppose the fact that i embedded this video here makes me complicit in promulgating racist ideas, but that was certainly not my intention. i was amused and just wanted to share, but hadn’t thought about whether this was real or not.

    sorry if i misrepresented this video, or my intentions behind sharing it.

  8. #8 asteroid
    October 31, 2007

    The problem is not with you posting this, per se. I am sure that you, and most of your readers, are capable of the critical thought necessary to evaluate the validity of the information barrage that it the internet.

    the problem is with a major media outlet with a less-discerning audience reading an entry like this (of which there are many), not doing their homework (it happens all the time) and running a feature on, say, the today show. suddenly, you have a nation full of people who think koreans are gross and inhumane (inmurine?).

    the respect of a wide audience (especially a scientific one, as science could not be less well-understood by the general public) comes with a responsibility to post things like this only when you are totally sure they are real or you have clearly marked them as “funny, but probably not true”.

  9. #9 "GrrlScientist"
    October 31, 2007

    funny, but probably not true

    that’s a very good idea. i thought that what (and how) i wrote about it would indicate to people that i thought it was funny, but probably not true, but i think your idea of specifically marking the entry as such is much better.

  10. #10 David Harmon
    October 31, 2007

    Actually, this is probably a spinoff from a Cracked magazine spread on “screwy foods” that I’ve seen elsewhere. It wasn’t even the nastiest of the items there! And I’ve heard of pretty bizarre stuff in Chinese “health tonics”, mice fetuses would be par for the course.

  11. #11 David Harmon
    October 31, 2007
  12. #12 asteroid
    October 31, 2007

    re: David Harmon

    Actually, that’s the first posting I saw too, but that doesn’t make it more verifiable than any other, of which there have been quite a few (Halloween-season obsession with gory stuff, I guess). It also includes the photograph I referenced when I mentioned the “Korean” label that’s written in Chinese.

    First, baby mice can not “ferment” alcohol any more than humans can. Only yeast and bacteria do this. This is why beer and wine are made using yeast, not body parts.

    Second, even if the mice were not used to ferment the wine (as the Cracked post claims), they would disintegrate quickly in alcohol as it is not a sufficient preservative to, well, preserve them. This is why scientists use formaldehyde to preserve things like mice. Believe me, if alcohol worked it would be a lot easier.

    Just because some magazine lists it along with other items that actually are real (lutevisk is really, truly nasty and I will never understand why various cultures seem to enjoy eating various states of larvae) doesn’t make it real. I have yet to hear one person convincingly corroborate this hoax; conversely, I have asked a few Koreans and Chinese about it, and they have all denied any knowledge of it.

  13. #13 asteroid
    October 31, 2007


    Sorry, I wrote that biological specimens cannot be preserved in alcohol; I actually meant they could not be preserved in alcohol with a proof similar to rice wine (5-20% I think). In order to preserve anything in alcohol (which has not been the scientific standard for a long time, but is used in hard alcohols like tequila) you need close to 200-proof, or 100% alcohol.

    My bad!

  14. #14 blf
    November 1, 2007

    There’s nothing (that I could find) about this on Snopes. All(?) the links I did find were somehow related to the Cracked page, or else where postings by people (some of whom clearly speak Korean or Chinese) that they’ve “never heard of it”. (There were a few mentions of a “snake wine”, in both China and North(?) Korea.)

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