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

Rate this post

When we talk about Asian cuisine, we can point you in the direction of a few different dishes that call for rice wine. The reason for this is that wine imparts a glaze and sweetness onto food, which in turn makes the dish more savory and flavorful. Now, the interesting thing about wine used in cooking is that there are many different kinds. For example, Shaoxing wine and Sake are often mixed up with one another. Thus, you may be wondering: what distinguishes Shaoxing wine from Sake?

Sake and Shaoxing wine, in general, are both rice wines that are produced via the process of fermentation. On the other hand, they are not interchangeable in terms of the taste they impart or the requirements and objectives of the cooking process. Hence, despite the fact that you may use either one of them in place of the other in some circumstances, it is recommended that you make use of them in accordance with the circumstances.

When it comes to cooking wines, Shaoxing wine and sake both provide a distinct taste character to the foods and recipes they are used in. So, you need to have an understanding of these tastes in order to ensure that you are using the appropriate one in your recipe. In addition, it will assist you in adjusting the seasoning in the event that you need to replace any of them.

In this essay, we will guide you through the fundamentals of Shaoxing wine and Sake, which are two beverages that are quite popular in China. You will get an understanding of what each of these culinary wines is capable of doing and how you may utilize them in the most effective manner by following these steps.

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

As a result, substituting one for the other is not recommended. You may also discover better substitutes for each other.

Sake and shaoxing wine are two very different beverages. These two items are not interchangeable despite the fact that they are both wines made from rice and are used for cooking.

For example, dishes prepared with Shaoxing wine and those made with sake each have their own unique taste. As a result, you will notice that the applications for each of them are distinct from one another. Read up on each topic individually to have a deeper comprehension.

What exactly is Shaoxing wine?

Shaoxing wine is a drink that is clear in color and has an amber hue. It has a somewhat sweet flavor and an aromatic scent. In spite of the fact that it is called “wine,” Shaoxing wine does not have the flavor of alcoholic beverages.

Since it only contains a little amount of alcohol, it has the flavor of a fluid that is reminiscent of caramel and vinegar. On the other hand, it may also be drunk as a beverage.

This condiment, much like wine, gives Chinese foods an additional layer of complexity and richness of taste. It is used to impart flavor into meat marinades, dumplings, or wonton stuffing; season our wok; impart flavor into stir-fries; flavor sauces and braises; and season our wok.

There are even some who contend that Shaoxing wine is used in the great majority of the savory dishes that we prepare. Because of this, Shaoxing wine may be used in a wide variety of meals.

What exactly is Sake?

Sake is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage that was first produced from rice. Sake is more closely connected to beer than it is to rice wine, despite the fact that its popular name refers to rice wine.

A process similar to that used to make beer, soaking grains while they boil and ferment with yeast results in the production of sake. Rice, rather than cereals like as hops, barley, or wheat, is used to make sake. This is the primary distinction between sake and beer.

In addition, the average alcohol by volume (ABV) of beer is about 4%, whereas the ABV of sake is 16%. It undergoes a first fermentation with yeast, and then a secondary fermentation with koji mold after it has been brewed.

Sake, much like wine and beer, is available in a diverse array of flavor qualities. As a result, you are welcome to try a wide range of sake brands, from those that are dry to those that are sweet.

The majority of people describe the taste of sake as being crisp and somewhat sweet. Then there are the nuances, like the fragrances of nuts or flowers, for example.

If the Sake you consume looks cloudy and white, this indicates that it has not been pasteurized. This look indicates that the Sake still includes rice solids that have not been fermented or filtered off throughout the production process.

What’s the difference between Shaoxing wine and Sake?

The flavor and taste of Shaoxing wine and Sake are noticeably distinct from one another, unlike any other wine. Although though they are both rice wines, the flavors that they impart are rather distinct from one another. Nevertheless, let’s also take a look at each component to have a better grasp of the differences between them.

Taste and flavor of Shaoxing Wine compared. Sake

The alcoholic flavor of Shaoxing wine is bolder and more pronounced than that of Sake. Moreover, the majority of wines from Shaoxing are very salty. Sake, on the other hand, has a more subdued alcoholic flavor along with hints of fruitiness and sweetness in its flavor profile.

In terms of flavor, Shaoxing wine has a flavor profile that is characterized by both an alcoholic flavor and a salty taste profile. In the same vein, it ought not to be consumed in any form. Nonetheless, it is a vital component in a great number of Asian recipes. In the context of western cuisine, it has a tendency to impart a taste that is complex and rich, particularly to stews and soups.

While trying to achieve a distinctive flavor, it is common practice to use just a little quantity of shaoxing wine. It is most often used in savory preparations. Because of this, it will be quite difficult to find a dish of Chinese cuisine that does not include the usage of Shaoxing wine.

Since sake and white wine are both dry and silky liquids, their flavors are comparable to one another. Certain kinds of cold sake have more flavor than others, but overall, the flavor is comparable to that of an exceptionally dry white wine. When you drink cold sake when it’s hot, the flavor is similar to that of vodka.

Sake vs. Shaoxing Wine

Both Shaoxing wine and Sake have a variety of applications and applications, yet these two beverages taste and flavor differently. In most cases, Shaoxing wine is used as a seasoning in the kitchen, while Sake is more of an alcoholic drink or beverage that is consumed.

Together with its strong alcoholic flavor, the majority of Shaoxing wines also feature significant concentrations of salt. Thus, dishes that have a fishy or raw aroma are the ones that call for this cooking wine the most often. The robust taste of the alcoholic beverage helps to mask the smell while also adding seasoning to the meat or fish.

Sake, on the other hand, is more often used as a beverage than as a spice. In addition to its usage in the kitchen, sake is primarily consumed as a beverage, either warmed or served at room temperature.

Because of this, it would seem to be difficult to employ one as a substitute for the other. Yet, since it is a substitute that will cause a change in the flavor and taste of your meal, it is strongly recommended that you steer clear of doing so under all circumstances.

Alcohol level of Shaoxing Wine compared. Sake

The alcohol concentration of Shaoxing wine is much greater than that of Sake. The former has an alcohol percentage of anywhere between 15 and 20 percent, whereas the latter has an alcohol content of anywhere between 14 and 16 percent. Because of this, you may discover that the taste and impact of the alcohol in Shaoxing wine is far stronger than that of the alcohol in Sake.

Calories and nutrients of Shaoxing Wine compared. Sake

As comparison to Shaoxing wine, the calorie count of sake is somewhat greater. Whereas one hundred grams of sake has 134 calories, one hundred grams of shaoxing wine only contains 120 calories. Sake has a larger calorie content than wine, despite the fact that the difference isn’t that significant.

Can Sake be substituted for Shaoxing wine?

Yes, you are able to use Sake in place of Shaoxing wine; however, the end result will have a very distinctive taste. Sake, in comparison to Shaoxing wine, is lower in both the percentage of alcohol and the amount of salt that it contains.

So, you may get a distinct taste by substituting Sake for Shaoxing wine when necessary. In a nutshell, there are superior substitutes for Shaoxing wine that may be found, but if you just want a little amount, you can utilize Sake to make up the difference.

Can Shaoxing wine be substituted for Sake wine?

It is possible to use Shaoxing wine in place of sake, but the resulting dish will have a very distinctive taste profile. So, it would be to your advantage to look into other available options. If you use Shaoxing wine instead of Sake, you won’t get the same deep umami taste that you would with Sake.

In addition, you’ll notice that Shaoxing wine lends an earthy, alcoholic flavor to the cuisine you prepare. As a result, you are free to choose something more suitable in its stead. Alternately, if you just need a little amount, you can get away with it, but the flavor and taste may be altered to some degree as a result.

In comparison to Sake, how is Shaoxing wine made?

In spite of the fact that Shaoxing wine and Sake are both made from rice, the processes by which they are produced are very distinct from one another.

Rice, water, and a trace amount of wheat are fermented together to produce shaoxing wine. It is important to bear in mind that shaoxing wine does include wheat. As a result, it cannot be considered gluten-free.

Sake, like beer and wine, is made via a process called yeast fermentation. This occurs when yeast, a kind of bacterium, converts sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Rice, koji, and water are the three primary components of the fermentation process used to produce sake.


To summarize, Shaoxing wine and Sake are not interchangeable, and they may be distinguished from one another in a number of important respects. Yet, the smells and aromas of these condiments are not the same, particularly when used in various recipes or cuisines. For instance, Shaoxing wine has a stronger alcohol content and a saltier taste, but Sake has a more robust flavor with a hint of sweetness and has far less alcohol.

Because of this, you won’t discover that using one as a replacement for the other is a suitable solution for you. Also, you have the ability to discover superior choices for one another.

  • Cooking Sake vs. Sake
  • Sake vs. Rice Wine
  • Sake vs. Soju
  • Sake vs. Wine
  • Sake vs. Vodka


What is the difference between Shaoxing and sake?

Even though there are some discernible changes while being consumed, Shao Xing wine is fundamentally the same thing as Chinese sake. The rice that is used to make it is not polished, so instead of being transparent like sake, it has a color that is in between brown and yellow. In addition to that, it has a trace quantity of salt.

Can I substitute Shaoxing wine with sake?

Soju and sake are examples of traditional Korean wines. Other Drinks to Replace Shaoxing Wine

You may also use any other Chinese rice wine in its place if you happen to have any lying around. You might instead use Japanese instead, especially for smaller quantities.

What is the difference between sake and Chinese rice wine?

Sake and rice wine are considered to be essentially interchangeable names in Japanese culture. Nihonshu, which literally translates to “rice wine” in Japanese, is another term that you could come across. Rice wine, which is very similar to sake, is produced in a number of nations throughout Asia by fermenting rice, particularly sticky rice, with koji in order to get the desired level of sweetness.

What is the difference between Chinese cooking wine and sake?

In comparison to sake, the Chinese rice wine that is used for cooking is more similar to sherry than it is to a light white wine. Sake has a flavor that is considerably less intense and a color that is more transparent.

Why do we use sake in cooking?

In addition to adding umami and a sweet, mellow taste, eliminating harsh aromas, tenderizing meat, and improving the flavor of steamed seafood dishes, soups, sauces, and marinades, sake is employed in these applications.

Can you substitute sake with rice cooking wine?

If the recipe only asks for a modest quantity of sake (between one and two tablespoons), you may substitute it with dry sherry or Chinese rice wine instead. Or, if you don’t consume any alcohol at all, you may replace the sake with a mixture of rice wine vinegar and water or white grape juice in the proportion of one part vinegar to three parts liquid in place of the sake.

What wine is similar to sake?

Wine with a dry finish

There are a lot of similarities between the taste characteristics of dry white wine and sake, despite the fact that sake tends to be stronger. Make the substitution with an equal amount of dry white wine.

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.

What is the Chinese version of sake?

Among China, mijiu, which was the forerunner of sake and is now more often referred to as huangjiu, is regarded to be a kind of huangjiu. The drink known as Huangjiu may then be further subdivided into a variety of kinds depending on a number of different criteria. The “dryness” of the beverage, the process by which it is produced, and the starter that is used are some of these factors.

Is Chinese wine a sake?

SAH-kee, often pronounced as SAK-ay and also referred to as Japanese rice wine, is an alcoholic beverage of Japanese provenance that is prepared by fermenting rice that has been polished to remove the bran before the fermentation process. ˈsɑːki, ˈsaekeɪSake, often written saké (sake (酒, Sake)