Mirin vs. Shaoxing Wine: What Is the Difference? (Explained!)

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Both mirin and shaoxing wine, which hail from their respective countries of origin Japan and China respectively, are used often in the culinary world. In a broad sense, these two condiments are comparable to one another. As a result, you may be curious in the differences between them. Thus, you could be wondering: what distinguishes Shaoxing Wine and Mirin from one another.

Although though Shaoxing wines and Mirin are both considered to be types of cooking wine, their applications and results in various culinary preparations are quite different. For instance, mirin and shaoxing both provide a unique flavor and texture to food; as a result, chefs make use of both to generate a variety of distinct results. The following conversation will focus on these distinctions between the two options.

If you are interested in learning how to cook Asian food, it is important to first have an awareness of the distinctions between the two so that you can then learn how to utilize each one appropriately. Also, if you utilize both of them in the right way, you will be able to give your dish the greatest taste possible.

We’ll answer some of the most basic questions you may have regarding mirin and Shaoxing wine in this post. You’ll get an understanding of each one and observe how they vary from one another thanks to this method.

Let’s get down to business without further ado, shall we?

Is mirin synonymous with Shaoxing wine?

Although though they are both considered to be types of cooking wine, mirin and shaoxing wine are not the same thing.

The most well-known wine for cooking in China is called Shaoxing. Because of the high alcohol concentration, this bright yellow liquid is added to the recipe to eliminate any odors that are associated with fish.

On the other hand, mirin is a sort of cooking wine that is used in Japanese cuisine. In addition, it is aesthetically comparable to Shaoxing wine and performs the same purpose of neutralizing fishy aromas left behind by meals in the same way. In point of fact, there are others who substitute it for wine while they are cooking.

Some individuals believe that mirin is a superior substitute for Shaoxing wine, while others disagree. In addition, they indicated that it would do in a pinch as long as the amount of sugar in the recipe was decreased to account for the fact that mirin is already sweet. On the other hand, there are better options available to you.

For instance, dry sherry is a more responsible and equivalent choice. In addition, the flavor of Mirin is sweeter than the flavor of Shaoxing wine, which is rich, aromatic, and has a touch of sweetness.

What exactly is the difference between mirin and Shaoxing wine?

Rice is the primary ingredient in both mirin and shaoxing wine. So, it is clear that they have a lot of things in common. Nonetheless, they are distinguishable from one another due to the fact that they each possess unique characteristics.

The distinction between Shaoxing wine and Mirin may generally be broken down into its many component parts. Hence, if you want to compare the two, you’ll find it simpler to grasp if you look at each of these elements separately one at a time.

Mirin enhances the umami taste.

Mirin is a wonderful cooking wine that contains more than nine different types of carbohydrates, each with a variable level of richness. This gives the meal a taste that is naturally sweet.

In addition, the glucose may neutralize the salt’s salty flavor and the vinegar’s sour taste, which would result in the dish having a taste that is less harsh and more pure.

So, despite the fact that Shaoxing cooking wine has a flavor that is slightly peppery and does not have a sweet taste, its impact is obvious as being refreshing.

Mirin hardens up meat while Shaoxing wine tenderizes it.

The meat is made more soft because the organic ingredients that are dissolved in the Shaoxing cooking wine cause the flesh to break down. Hence, if you want delicate meat, drinking Shaoxing wine is going to assist you attain that aim.

Mirin, on the other hand, causes the protein in meat to contract, which results in a firmer texture. As a direct consequence of this, the condiment prevents the meat from breaking apart as it is being cooked.

So, using the appropriate quantity of mirin while making meat that has to be simmered for an extended period of time helps maintain the structure of the fish and improves the taste of the dishes.

Mirin has more applications.

Cooking techniques such as searing, simmering, grilling, roasting, steaming, and baking may all benefit from the use of mirin and Shaoxing wine. On the other hand, it is the one thing they have in common.

The majority of the time, meat, fish, and shellfish are the primary foods that are prepared using Shaoxing cooking wine.

On the other hand, mirin may be used in the preparation of a wide variety of foods, including meat, fish, and seafood, vegetables, and noodles.

A few drops of mirin added to rice after cooking may make the grains chewier, and adding it to pastry mixture before baking can prevent the batter from falling apart.

As a result, you will discover that Mirin is more beneficial in the many kitchen activities you do. Nonetheless, Shaoxing wine brings its own set of advantages to the table in every cuisine.

Can Mirin be used in place of Shaoxing wine?

There is no problem with using Mirin in place of Shaoxing wine. Nonetheless, you should only engage in this activity if there are no other choices available to you.

Rice wine and cooking wine are both considered to be condiments; nevertheless, their effects on food are distinct from one another.

Nonetheless, Mirin is one of the substitutes for Shaoxing wine that you may use instead of it. The only thing you’ll need to keep in mind is that mirin is more flavorful and has a more pronounced sweetness.

Because of this, you should cut down on the amount of sugar in your recipe since mirin already has its own natural sweetness.

Can you use Shaoxing wine instead of mirin?

No, you cannot use Shaoxing wine in place of Mirin in this recipe. In the event that you do so, ensure that it is solely used for the purpose of preparing meat and not for cooking.

The qualities of shaoxing wine and mirin are distinct enough from one another that they impart distinctive flavors to the meal they are combined with. While cooking meat, fish, or seafood, you can discover that it is acceptable to use Mirin rather than Shaoxing wine instead.

On the other hand, if you cook or season your dish over an open flame, the mirin could impart an excessive amount of flavor and an overbearing aroma. As a result, you’ll need to find a more suitable replacement for it.


In a nutshell, despite the fact that both mirin and Shaoxing wine are used in cooking, they are quite distinct from one another. These two types of cooking wine each serve a unique function, bringing distinctive qualities and aromas to the dish they are added to. Although while both contain alcohol content, which helps to lessen and remove fishy aromas, the impact that each has on the texture and taste of the dish are very different.

In the end, the decision between the two will come down to whatever option better suits your needs. You will discover that Mirin and Shaoxing wine both serve a unique function and have a unique impact, and that this allows you to make use of each of them in their own unique ways. As a result, everything will depend on the condiment that you will need. In any case, the taste of your cuisine will be much improved by using either of these condiments.

  • Mirin vs. Rice Wine
  • Mirin vs. Sake
  • Mirin vs. Rice Vinegar
  • Mirin vs. Michiu


Can you substitute mirin for Shaoxing wine?

Some of your sources will tell you that mirin is an excellent alternative for Shaoxing wine, and if you exclude the sugar from your recipe, you can get away with using it in a hurry. A better and more appropriate option is dry sherry (not cooking sherry). As compared to Shaoxing wine, which has a flavor that is rich, fragrant, and just slightly sweet, Mirin has a more pronounced sweetness.

What is the difference between rice wine and Shaoxing wine?

As compared to the flavor of Shaoxing wine, the lighter flavor of rice wine is comparable to the difference between using salt and using light soy sauce. The first is saltier in its purest form, while the second contributes a fuller taste. In order to get more knowledge about the manufacture of wine in ancient times, we traveled all the way to Shaoxing, which is located in China.

What is mirin used in Chinese cooking?

Noodle meals, rice dishes, sauces, glazes, and broths may all benefit from the use of mirin as a flavoring agent. Making teriyaki sauce is the Western culture’s most common use for this ingredient. It may be used as an ingredient in salad dressings or as a component in a dipping sauce for fried dishes like tempura when combined with dashi and soy sauce.

What do you replace mirin with?

2 teaspoons of sugar should be used for every single tablespoon. There is always the option to purchase mirin online, but if you’re in a true need, you may use a dry sherry or a sweet marsala wine instead. You may also use rice vinegar or dry white wine, but keep in mind that you’ll need to add roughly 1 teaspoon of sugar to balance off the sourness.

Can I use rice cooking wine instead of Shaoxing wine?

It depends on your preference. Rice wine has a mellow flavor and a fragrant aftertaste that is invigorating, and I use Shaoxing rice wine when I make drunken chicken, drunken prawns, Dongpo pig, and other slow cook meat dishes. I use rice wine in the majority of my eastern meals since it is a staple ingredient. Rice wine made from Shaoxing is known for having a more robust taste and flavor on average.

Is Japanese rice vinegar the same as Shaoxing wine?

Both of these items are produced by fermenting rice. Yet, the end product has a unique acidity, taste, and texture due to the procedure as a whole. Rice vinegar has a much higher percentage of acetic acid than Shaoxing wine (and somewhat sweet). In addition, rice vinegar, which is also known as rice wine vinegar, does not have any alcoholic content.

Can I substitute rice vinegar for Shaoxing wine?

A number of people have investigated the possibility of replacing Shaoxing wine with rice vinegar. Since it imparts a taste profile that is quite distinct from that of Shaoxing wine and might lead a meal to be too acidic, it is not an ingredient that I would personally choose to replace.

Does mirin need to be refrigerated after opening?

After being opened, it must be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within three months.

What does adding mirin to rice do?

One of the essential components that gives Japanese cuisine its distinctive flavor is mirin. Mirin is a cooking rice wine that is semi-sweet and alcoholic. It boosts umami, which gives your food an added layer of depth and richness.

What does rice with mirin taste like?

The taste of mirin is both sweet and sour. In contrast to sake, the consistency of mirin is much more similar to that of syrup. Because of the fermentation process, the component has a flavor that is characterized as umami.