What Does Rice Wine Taste Like?

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In this article, we're going to answer your top questions about rice wine. What does it taste like? Is it the same thing as rice vinegar? How do you use it? Find out below.

Rice Wine

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What Does Rice Wine Taste Like? 

What rice wine tastes like really depends on what type it is. A popular kind of Chinese rice wine, Shaoxing, is dry with a sharp vinegar flavor, and it's added to a number of Chinese dishes. 

Some rice wines are sweet while others are spicy with a savory element. It's tough to pin down one general flavor, but sweetness, tanginess and spice are not uncommon.

Is Mirin the Same as Rice Wine? 

Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine with a little tang. It's like a sweet sake, if you've ever had it. Most frequently, we're not talking about mirin when we talk about rice wine.

Recipes that simply call for "rice wine" are likely asking for Shaoxing. This accounts for some of the confusion where mirin comes in to play.

What’s the Difference Between Rice Wine and Rice Vinegar? 

Though both of these products are made using a fermentation process, they're not the same. For starters, rice vinegar is nonalcoholic while rice wine contains alcohol.

The biggest differences you'll notice between these products is in the flavor profiles. Rice vinegar is simply sharp and vinegary while rice wine can have a host of flavors from sweet to pungent. 

What Can You Substitute for Rice Wine? 

No rice wine in your kitchen? Sherry may be your best bet. A sweet sherry would work for sweeter rice wine while a dry sherry can replace something like Shaoxing.

Any white wine you have on hand will work if you need it to. Rice vinegar will likely be way too strong, but apple juice with a touch of rice vinegar could work as a nonalcoholic replacement.

Rice Wine Cooking Tips 

Cooking with rice wine is easy if you're following a recipe. If you're not sure where to start after you've bought a bottle of rice wine, watch these videos with step-by-step recipes.

Try out this vegan version of Sichuan dan dan noodles with spicy and umami flavors. Here are all the ingredients:

  • Cooking oil
  • Zucchini
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Shaoxing rice wine
  • Dark soy sauce
  • Peanut butter
  • Chili oil
  • Chili garlic sauce
  • Sugar
  • Vegetable broth
  • Rice vinegar
  • Whole wheat noodles
  • Cilantro

Here's a video that will show you how to make vegan teriyaki sauce with mirin. All you need are the following ingredients:

  • Soy sauce
  • Mirin rice wine
  • Fruits and veggies
  • Sugar or vegan sweetener
  • Thickening starch

Wrap Up 

There's a whole world of rice wines out there, and each type has its own unique flavor. Some rice wines are spicy and vinegary while others are sweet and earthy. Start incorporating rice wine into your stir-fries and sauces for Asian-inspired dishes.

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