Rice Wine vs. Shaoxing Wine: What Is the Difference? (Read!)

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Rice wine and Shaoxing wine are almost interchangeable representations of the same beverage. They have a common ancestor, despite the fact that they are distinct from one another in other respects. Therefore, as someone who is not well-versed in such things, you may be wondering: What exactly differentiates Shaoxing wine and Rice wine from one another?

In general, Shaoxing wine is an ancient and venerable kind of rice wine that originates in China. Hence, if you look at it beside the clear rice wine, you’ll see that the two have a lot in common. Rice wine, on the other hand, has a saltier taste and is more balanced, while Shaoxing wine has a more robust flavor despite its lighter body.

Since Rice wine and Shaoxing wine are not identical, the results of your recipe may vary depending on which one you choose. Thus, if you are unfamiliar with the effects that these two culinary condiments might have on your dish, you need to educate yourself on them. In this method, you will be able to determine which one is necessary for your diet and which one you should steer clear of.

Rice wine and Shaoxing wine both have certain qualities that make them useful in the kitchen. Rice wine and Shaoxing wine are two types of traditional Chinese alcoholic beverages, and in this post, we’ll go over some of the key differences between the two. With this knowledge at your disposal, you will be able to use these condiments in the most effective manner imaginable.

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

Is rice wine synonymous with Shaoxing wine?

Rice wine and Shaoxing wine are not the same thing, despite the fact that Shaoxing wine is a kind of rice wine. Rice wine is the primary category that Shaoxing wine falls under. It only has a deeper hue and a flavor that is lighter yet more robust.

So, despite the fact that they are both considered to be cooking wines, individuals utilize each one for a distinct range of purposes and requirements in the kitchen.

Both of these culinary wines will present visually and gastronomically distinct differences to you. Rice wine is often clear in appearance and more closely resembles water than anything else. On the other hand, the hue of Shaoxing wine may be described as brown. Rice wine and Shaoxing wine are both manufactured from rice, however rice wine is made from ordinary rice while Shaoxing wine is made from sticky rice.

So, if you’re curious in the distinctions between Rice wine and Shaoxing wine, let’s dive right in and find out more about them!

What exactly is the distinction between rice wine and Shaoxing wine?

Rice wine and Shaoxing wine are distinct from one another in terms of their overall look, primary component, taste, and purpose. While these two wines have distinct aromas and qualities, you can still use either one of them in a number of different recipes.

Taste and flavor of rice wine vs. Shaoxing wine

Rice wine and Shaoxing wine are most easily distinguishable from one another in terms of their respective tastes and aromas. For example, rice wine imparts a taste that is less distinct but more salty to the cuisine. On the other side, Shaoxing wine has a less pronounced salinity than other wines, but it has a more robust taste.

In a nutshell, the distinction between the two may be better understood if we compare them to a light soy sauce and salt, respectively. The former is known as Shaoxing wine and has a deeper color, less saltiness, but a great deal more taste than the latter.

The rice wine, on the other hand, is considered to be the latter. It has a more translucent look, and although it is quite slatier, it lacks taste. Nonetheless, it is more slatier. By contributing little more than a flavorless saltiness, it allows the natural flavors of the meal you’re eating to take center stage.

Rice wine made from Shaoxing is known for having a more robust flavor and taste. Moreover, Shaoxing wine has a taste reminiscent to peppercorns. As a result, it is not suitable for all kinds of foods. Rice wine, on the other hand, has a tasteless quality; because of this, a little amount of this cooking wine may assist add saltiness to meals without altering the flavor of the dish.

Uses of rice wine vs. Shaoxing wine

Rice wine and shaoxing wine, two types of Chinese cooking wine, both have a broad range of applications in the kitchen. Yet, the latter works by boosting the taste, whilst the former works by increasing the salty of the food. In light of this, while deciding between the two, you need to think about which condiment it is that you require.

Shaoxing wine, much like wine, gives Chinese cuisine an additional layer of complexity and richness of flavor. It is used to provide flavor to meat marinades, wonton or dumpling stuffing, caramelize our wok, add flavor to stir-fries, and flavor sauces and braises. People also use it to caramelize our wok. Some people would go as far as to say that Shaoxing wine is utilized in the vast majority of the savory foods that we prepare.

Rice wine is a popular alcoholic beverage and component in Chinese cuisine. It is produced by fermenting rice with water. It gives stir-fries and sauces an acidic quality and makes meat more soft when used in marinades. Rice wine from China should have a transparent appearance and flavor with no discernible overtones.

Can I use rice wine with Shaoxing wine?

Yes, you are able to substitute rice wine for shaoxing wine; however, the flavor of the dish will be altered somewhat as a result. Rice wine won’t provide much in the way of satisfying your need for the full-bodied but less salty taste of Shaoxing wine. In spite of this, using it as a substitute for cooking wine is the greatest option you have.

Although though rice wine will have a taste that is unremarkable but salty, this does not prevent it from becoming an excellent stand-in for the original product since the production method is quite comparable.

Can I use Shaoxing wine for rice wine?

Absolutely, you may substitute Shaoxing wine for rice wine in any recipe that calls for it. On the other hand, the taste of the food you eat can have a tendency to be more robust, so you should pay special attention to that aspect. The characteristic of Shaoxing wine is that, in comparison to Rice wine, it has a lower level of saltiness but a more robust taste.

Because of this, using this cooking wine into your dish may reduce the amount of saltiness while adding a great deal of flavor. If you want to substitute rice wine without significantly altering the flavor, you should simply add a little quantity and make up for the surplus with little salt. This will achieve your goal.

Taste the dish as you make these modifications to ensure that you have achieved the flavor and taste that you desire.

In comparison to rice wine, how is Shaoxing wine made?

The production of rice wine and Shaoxing wine follows a method that is, for the most part, identical. The rice that is used to prepare them is the sole element that makes them unique from other similar foods. For example, Rice wine is made from normal rice, but Shaoxing wine employs glutinous rice as its base ingredient.

Included below is an explanation of how each kind of cooking wine is produced.

The wine-making process in Shaoxing

Rice wine from China is known as Shaoxing wine. The name comes from the city of Shaoxing, which is located in Zhejiang Province and is famous for the production of rice wine.

One of the oldest varieties of rice wine produced in China is called Shaoxing Wine. In addition, during the production process, rice, water, and a very little amount of wheat are fermented. Since it contains wheat, shaoxing wine cannot be consumed by anyone who have a sensitivity to gluten. It has a clear appearance rather than a hazy one, a colour that is similar to dark amber, and a perfume that is somewhat sweet and fragrant.

The production of rice wine

Fermentation of rice starch is an integral part of the production process for rice wine. You have previously converted such sorts of rice starch to sugars. Rice wine is a common kind of alcoholic beverage that is often used in cooking and may also be consumed straight. In Japan, this beverage is known as sake, and it is considered to be the national drink of the country. Mirin from Japan and Huangjiu from China are two other types used in cooking.

You should ferment rice starches with yeast, fungus, and lactic acid bacteria to produce rice wine. For example, Aspergillus oryzae, a mold, turns starches into sugars, whereas Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a yeast, makes alcohol.


Rice wine and Shaoxing wine, to put it simply, are not interchangeable in any way. In spite of the fact that it is a kind of rice wine, Shaoxing wine has a more robust taste and a deeper color. On the other hand, rice wine imparts a taste that is more salty but has a flavor that is more neutral, which helps to mitigate the impact on the dish.

In general, Shaoxing wine is considered to be a traditional kind of Chinese rice wine. As a consequence of this, if you examine it against clear Rice wine, you will see that the two have quite a few similarities. On the other hand, Shaoxing wine has a taste that is more subtle but more profound, and rice wine has a flavor that is saltier but more subdued.

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Can I replace Shaoxing wine with rice wine?

Mirin is a wine that you should seek for if you have access to a larger variety of wines. Mirin is a kind of rice wine that is produced in Japan and is used mostly in cooking. Mirin has a taste profile that is comparable to that of Shaoxing. This yields an output that is flavorfully and texturally comparable to the one produced by your recipe.

What is the difference between Chinese cooking wine and Chinese rice wine?

The cooking wines found in the area’s supermarkets contain an excessive amount of added salt and a taste profile that is distinct from that of a traditional Chinese rice wine. Be careful not to mistake Chinese rice-wine vinegar with Chinese rice wine; this ingredient is a vinegar, not a wine, and it will impart a taste that is more acidic.

What can you use instead of Shaoxing rice wine?

Although if a standard dry white wine for cooking is in no way comparable to a classic Shaoxing wine, it nevertheless has the potential to provide a pleasant and subtly alcoholic taste to a meal and may, in a pinch, serve as a suitable replacement for rice wine. Be careful to use a dry white wine rather than a sweet one while preparing this dish.

Is Shaoxing wine the same as mirin?

It is not recommended that one thing be substituted for another. While both Shaoxing cooking wine and Mirin fall under the category of cooking wines, they are not interchangeable in terms of their characteristics or their uses. In the event that you do not have access to Mirin, a cooking wine made from rice wine combined with brown sugar in a proportion of 3:1 or grape wine mixed with a little amount of vinegar is a suitable alternative.

Is Chinese rice wine the same as red wine vinegar?

Rice wine and rice vinegar are not the same thing, despite the fact that both begin with fermented rice.

Is Chinese rice wine the same as rice wine vinegar?

Rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are both the same thing; rice vinegar is just another name for it. Rice wine vinegar is only another term for the fermentation process that first transforms the rice into alcohol and then into vinegar. This process is referred to as rice wine vinegar.

What is Chinese rice wine called?

Mijiu (Chinese: ; pinyin: mji; Wade–Giles: mi-chiu; lit. ‘rice wine’) is a kind of rice wine that is traditionally produced in China using glutinous rice. It has a usually clear appearance with a sweetness and acidity that are well balanced, very much like its Japanese and Korean counterparts, sake and cheongju, respectively.

Does Chinese cooking wine need to be refrigerated?

The bottle of rice wine should be kept in a cold, dark area and the cap should be screwed on as securely as possible. Rice wine has a shelf life of up to one year if it is kept in the right conditions. As a result of the large amount of alcohol that is contained inside it, Chinese cooking wine has a shelf life that is far longer than that of an open bottle.

Can I replace Shaoxing wine with mirin?

Mirin. 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.