Ritualized wine and tea tasting events exemplify the intensifying consumerism in contemporary China, and provide an opportunity for understanding the link between commercialized ceremonial practices and underlying individual aspirations and national ideologies. Based on an ethnographic investigation of recent formal wine and tea tasting events held in China's coastal eastern regions, this article explores how such events are embedded in discourses about both new individual lifestyle models and national cultural reconstruction. The author argues that, despite the fact that wine and tea drinking have very different cultural histories, ritualized tea and wine gatherings reflect many similar underlying social discourses. Furthermore, this article analyses some unsuccessful aspects of ritualized tastings to reveal the tension between social discourses and realities. Essentially, the article aims to show that Chinese consumption aspirations are caught in a paradox between ideals and practices, and performances and realities.