Are you looking for an excellent substitute for Shaoxing wine? This article lists the most appropriate swaps for this beloved Chinese rice wine.
Whether you run out of Shaoxing wine or want to add a twist to your dishes, we’ve got you covered. We’ll tell you why each swap is a great replacement and provide tips on how to use them. These alternatives will make your dishes equally delicious.
Shaoxing wine, Shaoxing rice wine, or Chinese cooking wine, hails from the ancient city of Shaoxing in China’s Zhejiang province.
This traditional fermented wine starts as a mixture of glutinous rice, a special kind of yeast, and water.
The mixture undergoes fermentation, which is responsible for its unique flavor.
It is worth noting that while rice is the main ingredient of this wine, it is not gluten-free. The yeast that uses to make Shaoxing comes from wheat, after all.
With its rich umami content and intricate aroma, Shaoxing wine showcases a delightful interplay of sweetness and earthiness.
It smells and tastes like a combination of caramel, nuts, and dried fruit.
This cooking wine adds a distinct touch to countless culinary delights.
In Chinese cooking, you’ll find this ingredient in stir-fries and marinades.
It is also a common addition to braised dishes, as it adds complexity to the recipes by tenderizing meat and providing natural flavors.
Fortunately, Shaoxing wine’s global popularity means you don’t have to go to China to buy it. You can look for it in Asian grocery stores and specialized markets worldwide.
You may find yourself looking to replace Chinese cooking wine in certain instances. For example, if alcohol consumption is not feasible due to personal or health considerations, you may need to look for an alternative.
Here are the top 11 Shaoxing Wine substitutes you can use in place of this cooking wine.
Among the top choices for a Shaoxing wine substitute is mirin.
Mirin is another cooking wine that hails from Japan. It has a flavor profile similar to Shaoxing and an identical consistency.
This wine also boasts a high umami content, so it is equally savory.
Mirin has a sweet taste but is much sweeter than Chinese cooking wine. Plus, it lacks that distinct nutty aroma of the original ingredient.
This alcoholic Japanese condiment does a great job of replacing Shaoxing in marinades, stir-fry sauces, and ramen dishes.
You may need to reduce the amount of your other sweeteners for sweet recipes to arrive at a more balanced taste if you use mirin as a replacement.
Another alcoholic Chinese cooking wine swap you should consider is sake.
This beverage is a widely available wine that most Japanese people serve and enjoy on special occasions.
Sake also uses fermented rice, like Shaoxing. There is a traditional sake that people use for drinking, and there is a sake that is especially for cooking.
Both are great options when it comes to replacing Chinese cooking wine. It can make your fish and meat dishes more complex and flavorful.
After all, this Japanese rice wine has an acidic and sweet taste, along with an umami flavor. You do have to note that sake usually has a lighter hue than Shaoxing rice wine. Using it might change the color of your dish.
Use cooking sake as a direct substitute for Chinese cooking wine, following a 1:1 ratio.
If you only have regular sake, use only half a cup to replace each cup of Shaoxing wine. Also, there are gluten-free versions of sake, so if you have gluten sensitivity, look for those kinds.
Yet another one of the best Shaoxing wine substitutes is dry sherry.
Sherry is a Spanish white wine that people love as a drinking beverage and a cooking ingredient.
This wine is nutty and sweet, like Shaoxing. Dry Sherry has a crisp and clean taste, making it a versatile ingredient in many dishes.
It is among the most popular types of fortified wine, so finding it in liquor stores is easy. There are sweet and dry kinds of sherry, with the dry kind being a less sweet option.
However, even dry sherry is sweeter than Chinese cooking wine, so you must not use the same amount for a replacement.
It works wonders in sauces, marinades, and soups. You may also use dry sherry as a Chinese wine replacement in meat dishes.
Note that you may come across cooking sherry while shopping for dry sherry. It is the same wine but with added salt. While this type is specifically made for cooking, it is not a suitable Chinese wine substitute due to its high sodium content.
If you cannot find dry sherry, try looking for another dry white wine.
After all, you may already have a bottle of these wines at home. If not, you can easily buy them from the nearest liquor store.
They’re quick, accessible, and affordable alternatives with a sweet and tangy taste. Their flavor complements vegetables and chicken.
Like dry sherry, other dry wines will also be sweeter than the original ingredient. Plus, they are less acidic. That said, they are not exact flavor matches. You should make some adjustments to your recipes for them to work.
Another quick and accessible alternative you must consider as a Shaoxing wine swap is gin. It is a staple drink in most liquor cabinets.
Gin is a highly alcoholic drink with a strong pine and citrus flavor. Indeed, it does not have the exact taste of the original ingredient, but a tiny hint of its flavor resembles rice wine.
Because of this faint similarity, using gin in small amounts can work for certain recipes. It is also best to use it as a replacement for Chinese cooking wine in dishes with meat and fish.
The flavors of these proteins won’t take a backseat even in the potent taste of gin.
Rice vinegar brings a tangy and slightly sweet note to your dish, akin to the depth of Shaoxing Wine.
Enhance stir-fries, marinades, and sauces with this substitute, while also maintaining a touch of acidity.
However, to balance the flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar per tablespoon of rice vinegar. This will help mimic the subtle sweetness of Shaoxing Wine.
Experiment with this substitution gradually, adjusting the sugar as needed to achieve a well-rounded flavor profile that complements your recipe while keeping its unique Asian-inspired essence.
Combine 1 tablespoon rice vinegar with 1/2 teaspoon sugar to replace 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing Wine.
If, for some reason, you cannot consume alcohol, using Shaoxing wine is a no-no. In that case, you can use white grape juice instead. After all, it has some acidity and a sweet flavor.
Note that its fruity taste strays away from the original ingredient’s flavor. For this reason, this swap only works in recipes that call for only a small amount of Shaoxing wine.
For instance, this swap is perfect for glazes and marinades, as these things will still taste great with the taste that white grape juice provides.
However, this fruit juice won’t be the best fit for dishes where Chinese cooking wine is the star ingredient. Consider other swaps instead.
You can use stock instead if your recipes call for just a tablespoon or two of Shaoxing wine. This non-alcoholic substitute is perfect for avoiding alcohol, especially when feeding children.
You can use meat or mushroom stock, which will give you that familiar umami flavor from the original ingredient.
It won’t have the same acidic and sweet taste but will work for sauce, stir-fry, and meat recipes. The best thing about this option is that you can make it yourself, so there is no need to go to the store.
Coconut aminos offer a mild, slightly sweet, and umami-rich alternative that’s suitable for various dishes.
When using this substitute, consider adjusting the saltiness of your recipe, as coconut aminos are naturally saltier than Shaoxing Wine.
Incorporate it into stir-fries, marinades, and sauces, lending a unique tropical undertone.
Keep in mind that while the flavor won’t be an exact match, coconut aminos provide a distinctive twist that can be especially appealing in Asian-inspired and fusion cuisine, offering a gluten-free and soy-free option.
This soy sauce alternative brings a hint of sweetness and umami to dishes; use a 1:1 ratio.
Soy sauce brings a savory and salty element to your dish, offering a rich flavor profile.
Incorporate it into marinades, stir-fries, and sauces, but be cautious not to overwhelm other flavors.
Since soy sauce is saltier than Shaoxing Wine, consider reducing the overall salt content of your recipe.
While the two flavors aren’t identical, soy sauce provides a convenient option for imparting complexity to your dishes, particularly in Asian cuisines.
Add a few drops of soy sauce for color and depth; start with small amounts and adjust to taste.
Apple cider vinegar offers a bright acidity reminiscent of Shaoxing Wine’s depth.
Enhance stir-fries, sauces, and marinades with this alternative, and consider adding a pinch of sugar to mellow its sharpness.
Although the flavors aren’t identical, the tartness of apple cider vinegar can add a distinct and zesty note to your recipes.
This sub works particularly well in dishes that benefit from a tangy kick, such as braised meats or dressings.
Mix with water in a 1:1 ratio and a pinch of sugar to mellow its acidity.
Choosing the best alternative for Chinese cooking wine can be challenging. After all, there are many choices above. To help you decide, here are some points to look at:
Familiarize the flavor profile of the swap and see how it aligns with cooking wine’s unique taste. Choose an ingredient that combines umami, sweetness, and nutty flavors for the best result.
The top options that offer a similar taste are mirin, dry sherry, and sake.
The whole point of looking for an alternative is for you to be able to use it. That said, it is always to choose the swaps that you can easily access. Mirin, sake, and gin are among the most accessible options.
Food safety is a crucial thing to consider in cooking. For this reason, you should always look out for the dietary needs of your family or guests.
If you are feeding people with gluten sensitivity, look for gluten-free versions of sake, and dry sherry are good options. For those who cannot have alcohol, white grape juice and stock are top choices.
No, Shaoxing wine and rice wine are not the same. Shaoxing wine is a rice wine, though. So, if a recipe calls for rice wine, you can use Shaoxing wine, but if it calls specifically for Shaoxing wine, that does not necessarily mean that you can use all types of rice wine.
In certain recipes and quantities, apple cider vinegar can be a decent swap for Shaoxing wine. You must remember that apple cider vinegar is not as complex and has an overwhelmingly acidic taste. It’s best to use it as a replacement in dishes that do not rely on the original ingredient for its main flavor.
People use this wine in cooking because of its high umami content and pleasant aroma. It can enhance the flavor of many dishes and is also a great meat tenderizer.
If you need a substitute for Shaoxing wine, several great alternatives are available. Mirin, a Japanese cooking wine, is a top choice. It offers a similar flavor profile and consistency to the original ingredient. Sake, another rice wine, is another great swap, especially in meat and fish dishes. Dry sherry provides a nutty and sweet flavor that complements many recipes, too. Dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, can be a quick and accessible option.
For those avoiding alcohol, white grape juice with rice vinegar is a non-alcoholic alternative suitable for glazes and marinades. You can also use meat or mushroom stock in small quantities. Other alternatives include light soy sauce and red grape juice. When choosing a swap, consider the flavor profile, availability, and dietary restrictions to ensure the best fit for your cooking needs.