9 Best Rice Wine Substitutes

Rice wine is a staple in many Asian dishes. The alcohol content of rice wine makes it perfect for cooking. It adds an extra depth of flavor to everything from sushi to stir fry, but it can be hard to find if you don’t live near an Asian grocery store.

Also, the taste of rice wine can be off-putting to some people who are not used to it.

Don’t worry! If you’re looking for rice wine substitutes, there are plenty of options out there that will give you the same results without having to make a special trip or order online.

What is Rice Wine?

Rice wine is an alcoholic beverage made from either fermented glutinous rice or non-glutinous rice. Although it is called “wine,” rice wine actually contains very little alcohol and more sugar than traditional wines.

Because rice wine has such a high sugar content, it can be used to add flavor to dishes instead of just eating it straight like most wines.

If you are looking for cooking wine rice wine substitutes, bear in mind that there are two types of rice wines. The first is made from fermented glutinous rice and the second is made from non-glutinous or “normal” rice.

There can be some differences between these two, most notably the sugar content, as the fermented version has less. This is mostly because it has been broken down through fermentation.

Glutinous rice wine is also known as Shaoxing wine and is most commonly used in Asian cooking and is available at Asian grocery stores. It is best for stir-fry and marinades.

Non-glutinous rice wine is the more common form of wine used in Western cultures and is best for soups or hotpots.

It’s probably our favorite because it doesn’t have that strong alcoholic taste that can be off-putting to some Americans.

The nine rice wine substitutes listed below are great options if you can’t find glutinous or non-glutinous rice wine at your local grocery store.

9 Best Rice Wine Substitutes

1. White Wine

White Wine

White wine is a type of wine made by the fermentation of the juice of white grapes. These wines are generally light and delicate with fruity flavors.

If you’re looking to substitute rice wine in your favorite Asian recipe, using dry white wine (not sweet) can give you very similar results without having to make a special trip.

White wine can be a great substitute for rice wine in dishes that only call for small amounts as white wine is stronger in terms of alcohol content compared to rice wine.

If you are looking at recipes that require more than a cup of rice wine, it might be best to use one of the other substitutes on this list instead.

When making something like a sushi sauce, white wine is the way to go as it has a similar flavor and can easily be substituted for rice wine.  

2. Gin

Gin is a liquor that is infused with juniper berries, which add a distinct flavor. It can be made from either fermented barley or various grains and other botanical flavors.

If you’re looking to use gin as a substitute for rice wine in your cooking, you should know that the taste won’t be exactly the same.

However, if you are looking for something with more of a kick or want to add some extra flavor without having to drive across town for rice wine, gin is a great substitute. Gin contains almost 50% alcohol while most wines have an average of 15-20%.

Because of this, recipes that only require a small amount of rice wine can easily be substituted with gin without having to worry about the taste being too strong.

3. Dry Sherry

Dry sherry has many different styles but all are produced from the Sherry region of Spain. It can be made from white or red grapes and has a low alcohol content.

Sherry is a dry wine that is not sweet like some wines. This makes it an excellent substitute for rice wine in your recipes because the taste is very similar and will provide almost the same results as far as texture, flavor, and color.

Since it is not sweet, you might have to add half a tablespoon of sugar for every tablespoon of sherry.

Make sure to not use sweet Sherry as a substitute as it is sweeter than rice wine.  This means it might change the taste and texture of your dishes too much.

4. White Vinegar

Vinegar

White vinegar is a distilled liquid that is most commonly used in pickling or canning recipes. It is made from distilled alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer, and cider.

It is used in many different types of cooking because it’s easily accessible and inexpensive. White vinegar has an acidic taste with a sourness that makes it similar to rice wine’s acidity.

When using white vinegar as a substitute for rice wine, the taste will be slightly different but you can still achieve similar results. You might need to add a little more sugar or honey than if you used rice wine, but other than that it should go smoothly and give you similar effects.

Because white vinegar has a strong flavor, you will want to use less than recipes call for when using it as a substitute for rice wine in your dishes.

5. Sake

Sake

Sake is a popular rice wine that you can find at your local grocery store, and it works perfectly well as a substitute for rice wine!

It is a Japanese alcoholic beverage brewed from steamed rice. It is similar to white wine in how it is made, but there are some key differences between the two drinks.

Sake will give your dish a slightly sweet taste. It goes well in dishes such as stir-fried vegetables, seafood, or any Asian beef dish. Substitute an equal amount of sake for the rice wine called for in your recipe.

Keep in mind that sake is on the sweeter side, so you might want to cut down on or completely eliminate any additional sweet ingredients called for in your recipe that aren’t already incorporated into the sake.

6. White Grape Juice

White grape juice has a similar flavor to rice wine and can be used in your recipes as a substitute.

It is a sweet drink that is made from white grape concentrate with water and sugar added. Because it has a sweeter flavor, it can be used in place of rice wine anywhere you would use sake or white wine.

If you are looking for white grape juice that is specifically meant for cooking, you will find it at any grocery store.

This juice works best in recipes such as sauces for stir-fried veggies or even fried rice. Use it as a substitute for wine in these types of dishes and you won’t notice the difference at all!

7. Apple Juice

Apple Juice

Apple juice can be used as a substitute for rice wine in your recipes. It is less acidic than white vinegar or grape juice, but it still gives you similar results with its fruity flavor.

You will want to use one parts apple juice for one part rice wine if you are subbing it out. This way, the taste won’t be too different from using rice wine and you won’t have to worry about it tasting “off” in your dish.

Apple juice is cheaper than many of the other alternatives, and it works great in your stir-fried veggies or as a sweet glaze on chicken dishes.

8. Lemon Juice

Using lemon juice as a substitute for rice wine can be tricky because it is highly acidic.

The main thing to remember with using lemon juice as a replacement is that you should only use half the amount of lemon juice than what the recipe calls for in rice wine.

So if your recipe uses one cup of rice wine, only use half a cup of lemon juice. If you don’t follow this rule it can cause issues that could ruin your recipe entirely!

Lemon juice will not give you the sweetness of rice wine, so you will have to add a sweetener of your choice to attain the flavor you are looking for.

9. Vegetable or Chicken Stock

Chicken Stock

When you are making a stir-fry or another type of Asian dish, using vegetable or chicken stock as a rice wine substitute will give your dish the same flavor without any acidic aftertaste.

This can be used in place of rice wine anywhere that calls for it and it has many of the same nutritional properties as rice wine.

What Does Rice Wine Taste Like?

Rice wine is used in all types of Asian dishes, but it has a subtle flavor that can be hard to pick out.

It has a sweet flavor that is a little fruity, and has a light taste. It will add some sweetness to your dish while giving you some of the best Asian flavors around!

What Is a Good Substitute for Chinese Rice Wine?

Sake has a similar flavor and can be used in most places where Chinese rice wine would work best. Other substitutes include white wine and gin.

Rice Vinegar vs. Rice Wine: What’s the Difference?

Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice and is slightly sour, while Chinese rice wine is a strong alcoholic beverage with a sweet taste. Both of them can be used in cooking, but they should not be substituted for one other.

Is Rice Wine and Cooking Wine the Same?

Rice wine is not the same as cooking wine. Rice wine has a strong flavor and alcoholic content, while cooking wine is very mild in flavor with little to no alcohol. Cooking wines are best used for marinades, sauces, soups, and other dishes where they will be cooked longer or at higher temperatures.

Final Words

You will find that there are many rice wine substitutes available, but it’s important to pay attention to the differences in taste and ingredients for each one.

I hope this article has given you some ideas on what substitutions are best for your needs.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading and best of luck with your cooking!

I’m a passionate food blogger on a journey to become a go-to person who can help others prepare delicious foods. I share recipes, food substitutes, and other cooking tips. Read more about my journey...

Leave a Comment