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A Taste of China Episode 2: Fine Wine, Hand-Grabbed Mutton, and the Flavors of Ningxia

October 20, 2020 @ 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Come with us to Ningxia, a windswept land of deserts in China’s northwest, where cumin-spiced Hui-minority cuisine reigns supreme, and local entrepreneurs are driving China’s booming wine industry. Follow our guide live as we visit one of the region’s top female-owned wineries, imagine the flavors of Ningxia’s hand-grabbed mutton, and learn about China’s wine renaissance with author and expert Janet Z. Wang.

Speakers’ Bios

Dorinda (Dinda) Elliott is SVP, Director of Programs, at the China Institute.  Before joining China Institute, Elliott worked as editorial and communications director at the Paulson Institute, which promotes U.S.-China relations and sustainable growth in both countries.  Elliott worked as a journalist for some 30 years, with a deep background in China. Elliott was Newsweek Bureau Chief in Beijing, Moscow, and Hong Kong, then Asia Editor. As Editor-in-Chief of Asiaweek from 2000-2001, she relaunched the magazine with a new focus on China and business. Elliott was later an Assistant Managing Editor at Time magazine, then Global Affairs Editor at Condé Nast Traveler, where she wrote about China, global issues, and corporate social responsibility.  Elliott graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in East Asian Studies. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and speaks rusty Russian and French. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her husband Adi Ignatius. They have three sons.

Emma Gao is the owner and winemaker of Silver Heights Vineyard, and is a leading figure on China’s modern wine scene. Raised in Ningxia, her father taught her to appreciate the potential for the area’s unique terroir and agriculture. She studied in Bordeaux, obtaining the Diplome National d’Oenologue and traveled to many of the world’s top wine regions. Returning to Yinchuan in 2007, her family launched Silver Heights, where their organic approach to viticulture and purist approach to winemaking helped position Ningxia as China’s premier wine region.

Zhang Mei is the founder and CEO of WildChina. Under her leadership, WildChina flourished from a small Hutong operation into an award-winning business. Mei’s own expertise has led her to win a number of personal awards, including Travel and Leisure’s A-List of Top Travel Advisors, Condé Nast Traveler’s Top Travel Specialist, and Wendy Perrin’s #WOW List of Travel Experts. Mei is an Aspen Institute China Fellow and currently serves as a member of Harvard Business School’s Alumni Board.

See Zhang Mei in Pieces of China, episode 10, as she discusses the white magnolia and its cultural history!

Janet Z. Wang is the author of The Chinese Wine Renaissance: A Wine Lover’s Companion (Ebury Press, 2020)She is contributing author on decanterchina.com, a bilingual website presented by Decanter the world’s leading wine media brand. Her wine writing has been shortlisted for the Circle of Wine Writers’ Young Wine Writer’s Award. Janet has appeared on Channel 4 and BBC Radio 4 to introduce Chinese wines. She is a principal opinion leader, educator, speaker and consultant on Chinese fine wines, spirits, Chinese wine culture and the global wine market. 

WildChina is an award-winning travel company that specializes in high-end cultural and experiential journeys. Whether we’re in China’s sprawling megacities or villages where street names hardly exist, we go off the beaten path to get to the real stories. We push the boundaries of travel, crossing cultural borders to discover the China that lives amid the aromatic sizzle of street-side woks, in bustling city markets and far-flung mountain villages, and most of all, in the hearts of the people along the way. Our journeys are fully customizable and cover Mainland China, Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and neighboring countries in South East Asia. Learn more online.


This program is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.


October 20, 2020
9:00 pm - 10:00 pm
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