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The King's Wine Lake

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

Dads are known for their strong stories and boastfulness, aren't they? Well, we like that too! But of course about wine. In this blog series we take you through the most bizarre, unbelievable and (probably...) true stories about wine.

China's party animal

Long time ago, King Zhou Xin ruled the biggest part of China; the Shang region. Zhou was much loved by his subjects and legend has it that he had supernatural powers. He was so smart that he won every argument, and so strong that he could hunt wild animals with his bare hands. His country was in good order and he ruled with a firm but steady hand.

King Zhou Xin of Shang

One day he got to know Daji. She is said to have been the most beautiful woman in China and Zhou was immediately madly in love. But, not everyone was happy with Daji. She did not fit into the perfect royal picture. Daji was a real 'party animal', drank a lot and spoke openly about sex. Of course that was not possible in those days!


King Zhou was so enchanted by Daji's appearance that he did everything he could to impress her. She loved music, so he had pieces of music composed for her. She loved animals, so he built her a zoo. And those expressions of love became more and more grand and dramatic.


The wine lake

'Lake full of wine' generated by DreamStudio

One day the king had a whole lake built for Daji. And not just any lake, because he had it completely filled with wine!


An island was made in the middle of the lake. And, you won't believe this, but instead of trees, the island was filled with meat skewers! On this bizarre island, the king organized numerous parties. Up to 3,000 people were invited to the small island at a time, all stark naked. At Zhou and Daji's insistence, the guests ran like animals, drank wine from the lake and feasted on the "trees" (and each other).


酒池肉林

Of course, Zhou's subjects were not happy about all those extravagant parties. He squandered the treasury and didn't seem to care about them anymore. When the king's uncle had had enough, he went to the palace for redress. He was immediately arrested and mercilessly killed in a gruesome manner (dissected alive...). The king and queen drifted further and further away from reality and acted harshly against their enemies.


Chaos reigned in the land and neighboring King Wu eagerly took advantage of it. He had been preying on Zhou land for years and this was his chance to invade. He sent 100 soldiers to the capital. That was all that was needed as Zhou's soldiers quickly joined them. The king fled to the island in the wine lake. There he set fire and perished along with his beloved pleasure island. What became of Daji remains a mystery...


Nowadays in China, the expression 酒池肉林 ('lakes of wine and forests of flesh') is still used as a symbol of extravagance and corruption.


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