Food & Wine Wine Culture

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

Do you know the difference between rice wine and rice wine vinegar? A lot of people don’t. In fact, a lot of people assume that they are the same thing. But they’re not!

Rice wine is made from fermented rice, while rice wine vinegar is made from the fermentation of rice and water. They both have different uses and benefits. In this blog post, we will discuss the differences between these two types of vinegars.

Rice wine vinegar is more acidic than a rice wine. This is because rice wine is produced from fermented rice and water, but rice wine vinegar is made from fermented rice alone. Rice wine vinegar’s high acidity makes it ideal for pickling and storing foods. It’s also used in a variety of Asian meals, including sushi and stir-fries.

If you can’t tell the difference between rice wine and rice vinegar, you’re not alone! Even people who are familiar with their cuisine have difficulty telling these two elements apart!

While they have similar names, they are distinct in several ways. Understanding the similarities and distinctions between these fermented rice ingredients can help you decide whether they may be used interchangeably in your favorite Asian recipes.

If you’ve come here in search of answers to the questions above, you’ve come to the correct location. Aside from defining the difference between rice vinegar and rice wine, this piece also explains their applications as well as alternatives.

About Rice Wine

It will be handy to have up-to-date information on these perplexing items, which is why it’s vital to get started by understanding the fundamentals of each one. This section will teach you what rice wine is and how it differs from other alcoholic beverages. I also go through some of its most popular types and alternatives.

Basic Knowledge About Rice Wine

Rice wine is distinguished from other wines by the use of fermented rice in its production. This Asian cuisine dish consists of alcohol produced from freshly cooked glutinous rice starch and sugars.

In essence, rice wine is a dessert wine. As a result, it is permissible to consume it as a beverage. However, it’s important to remember that rice wine has less alcohol than American wines.

Furthermore, rice wine has a vital usage in cuisine. People have utilized the element to sweeten and improve sauces and marinades for ages in Asia, particularly in Chinese cuisine.

Rice wine may vary in flavor, depending on the type of rice and how long it has been aged; its color varies from light yellow to reddish-brown.

rice wine vinegar vs rice wine

The Many Types of Rice Wine

The following names will amaze you with their popularity. You’ve tasted them in a variety of meals without realizing it! So, let’s have a look at these rice wine types!

Sake (Dry Japanese Rice Wine)

Sake is no secret! It’s a popular dry wine from Japan, especially among sushi restaurants. People tend to have this basic beverage in elegant little glasses.

Sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. To produce this drink, the Japanese pick Sake Mai rice of the highest quality, yeast, and water. The process of producing sake of the finest grade takes more than a year on average.

Rice wine is a rice brew fermented with rice or other starch, which has been aged. It’s most often referred to as “nishiki” in the literature, and it can be labeled “nishiki” in existence. Other sub-types include nitrocellulose (NC) and pasteurized sake, however the minimum alcohol content must be 15%. Genshu is the highest alcoholic beverage on record with a proof of over 20%.

Different individuals have unique tastes in sake. While inferior Sakes are somewhat sweeter and served hot or warm, superior Sakes taste better when consumed cold.

The ideal temperature for a hamster is between 75 and 80 Fahrenheit degrees, although never exceeds 105 or drop below 40.

Shaoxing (Chinese Rice Wine)

Shaoxing, sometimes known as Chinese cooking wine, has been used in a variety of Chinese meals for over 2,000 years. It is one of China’s oldest rice wines.

Shaoxing rice wine gets its name from China’s Zhejiang Province’s Shaoxing city. The area is noted for producing rice wine via a fermentation process that combines wheat and water with rice. The end result is a translucent and dark wine with wonderful sweetness.

Shaoxing is commonly used to prepare meals. Its robust flavor profile of salty and alcoholic tastes adds a wonderful depth to sauces and meat marinades. Shaoxing is also important for the creation of wonton, dumpling fillings, and other red-cooked Chinese meals.

You must age Shaoxing for a long time and heat it before drinking if you want to enjoy it as an alcoholic beverage. This drinking Shaoxing alcohol does not contain any extra salt.

Rice wine, on the other hand, is readily accessible in the United States through local authorities who have avoided the alcohol tax by selling rice wine at grocery stores.

Mirin (Sweet Rice Wine)

Mirin is a sweet, syrup-like rice wine produced in Japan from the Mirin brand.

Hon-mirin is Mirin made with steamed glutinous rice, distilled rice liquor, and koji (cultured rice), which was the original form. The ingredients are combined and fermented for months to years during this process.

Mirin becomes more flavorful and darker with each passing year. It has a lower alcoholic concentration than Sake, with 14%. Mirin is primarily used to sweeten different foods.

In the United States, Mirin may not be purchased directly. Instead, imitation Mirin is made from fermented rice, corn syrup, and water by online merchants.

Mirin imitation lacks the rich and distinct flavor of the genuine Mirin. It’s only about 90 proof, making it very low in alcohol content. To avoid paying taxes on alcohol, it also has extra salt added to it like Shaoxing.

Substitutes for Rice Wine

Rice wine can be used in a number of ways, and it comes in a variety of types for each application.

Instead of drinking rice wine, try one of the following substitute beverages:

  • Dry vermouth
  • White wine
  • White grape juice and non-alcoholic beverages are popular alternatives.

If you’re looking for a substitute for rice wine in your cooking, consider one of these alternatives:

  • White wine with a 1:1 ratio
  • Gin with a 1:2 ratio
  • Mix together equal amounts of pale dry sherry and water to make a 1:1 Mirin substitute.
  • For Shaoxing, use sherry and sugar instead of shaoxing.

Your Complete List of Rice Vinegar Information

So far, I’ve covered all you need to know about rice wine. It’s time to get down to business and learn what rice vinegar is now. After this section, there’s a detailed comparison waiting for you.

What Is Rice Vinegar and How Does It Work?

The main component of rice vinegar is fermented rice’s dregs (or lees), as with all vinegars. After being turned into alcohol to produce rice wine, the carbohydrates in rice are subjected to a second bacteria-infested fermentation process for the dregs to become acetic acid (or vinegar).

The resulting vinegar is alcohol-free, a little sweeter, and less acidic than regular distilled white vinegar. If you find that pure distilled white vinegar is too strong for your taste buds, wine vinegar may be used as a less powerful substitute.

This delicious and mild seasoning is wonderful in salads, meat marinades, and pickling veggies. It’s also popular in udon noodle soups and Korean cold noodle soups.

Rice vinegar is classified according to two criteria: its strength and whether it has been seasoned. This subject will be discussed in greater depth in the following section.

How to Classify Rice Vinegar by Strength

There are four types of rice vinegar based on strength.

White Rice Vinegar

White rice vinegar is a popular condiment that may be found in supermarkets and grocery shops. It’s clear, odorless, and refreshing.

Brown Rice Vinegar

Brown rice vinegar, like white rice vinegar, has a mild flavor and includes more nutrients. Brown rice vinegar still has the same mild taste like white rice vinegar since it resembles it somewhat.

Black Rice Vinegar

Black wine vinegar, made from rice with sorghum or millet, has a deeper color, a smoky-sweet flavor, and a softer texture than white and red varieties. It also develops a unique fragrance after being aged.

Black rice vinegar, typically known as black rice vinegar (Zhenjiang vinegar), comes in several distinct varieties. The former, which is regarded as the greatest kind, is produced in South China and has a 3000-year history.

Red Rice Vinegar

Red rice vinegar, unlike other varieties, has an unpleasant odor and a sweet and sour flavor profile. It distinguishes itself by including fermented rice from previous batches in addition to sorghum and barley.

Red rice vinegar contains several health benefits, including weight reduction and blood sugar management. It’s an ideal alternative to black rice vinegar when combined with a little bit of sugar. It’s fantastic in soups, dumplings, and fish dishes.

Seasoning Rice Vinegar and Classifying It by Season

Rice vinegar comes in two distinct varieties, both of which are optional. Seasoning or not is a matter of personal preference.

Plain Rice Vinegar

The idea of using vinegar as a rice seasoning is simple! It does not include any salt, sugar, or corn syrup. As a result, the condiment has a mild flavor profile.

Seasoned Rice Vinegar

Seasoned rice vinegar has a more complex flavor profile than its unseasoned counterpart. This rice vinegar type is sweeter and more delicious, with salt, sugar, and sometimes corn syrup added.

It’s frequently used in Japanese cuisine, particularly when making sushi rice. However, use the condiment sparingly because it has a higher fat and calorie content.

Rice Vinegar Substitutes

Rice vinegar, which is derived from fermented rice, has a distinct flavor profile that makes imitation difficult with other components. However, if you run out of rice vinegar, consider the following substitutes:

  • White Wine Vinegar: Tartaric acid comes from the fermentation of white wine and has a characteristic acidic flavor that rice vinegar lacks. It is, however, not as sweet. As a result, sugar should be added liberally.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: This replacement, which is made from apple cider, adds subtle apple flavor to rice-based dishes like sushi and vinaigrettes. Add a quarter teaspoon of sugar to bring out the sweetness in rice vinegar.
  • Sherry Vinegar: Sherry vinegar, which is rich in flavor and slightly sweet, complements rice vinegar very well. It works well in marinades and sauces when used at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Champagne Vinegar: The fermentation of sparkling wine produces champagne vinegar, which has a similar taste to rice vinegar. It can be used in salads, seafood, and marinades with a 1:1 ratio and has the same flavor as rice vinegar.
  • White Balsamic Vinegar: The color and flavor profile of this ingredient are less dark than that of its Italian counterpart. This outstanding source of antioxidants and organic acids may be used as a rice vinegar substitute in salads.
  • Lemon Juice: To replace rice vinegar in salads and marinades, you may use lemon juice. Its comparable acidic flavor adds life to any salad dish. The best ratio is 2:1.

Comparison of Rice Wine and Rice Vinegar

Let’s get started with an in-depth look at the differences between rice wine and rice vinegar, as well as some basic information about each.

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

The two Asian condiments have a lot in common:

  • Origin: Both are native to Asia. In fact, they have been used in Asian cuisine for centuries.
  • Rice as the main component: The two condiments, which are named after their creators, are made from rice. They both contain rice as their main ingredient. The rice is fermented and processed in various ways to create the two condiment sauces.

The Key Differences Between Rice Wine and Rice Vinegar

When comparing rice wine to rice vinegar, there are four key distinctions to consider.

The Process of Making

Rice wine and rice vinegar are made in distinct ways. Freshly steamed glutinous rice is fermented with fungi, yeast, lactic acid bacteria, and water to make rice wine. This fermentation process may take anything from a few months to a few years.

Rice vinegar is created by fermenting rice wine with rice dregs (or lees), sorghum, barley, and acetic acid bacteria. There is no alcohol in rice vinegar after this procedure.


Rice wine has a pleasant, mild flavor that is found in all rice-based dishes. It also contains quite a bit of alcohol.

Meanwhile, rice vinegar is flavorless and free of alcohol, yet it has a comparable sweet, acidic taste profile that will make your sides curl when you drink it straight!


Rice wine and rice vinegar, like many other condiments, have a limited nutritional value. However, since people consume them in different proportions, it is difficult to determine the nutritional value of each condiment.

150ml of rice wine, on the other hand, has a total of 202 calories, 7.5 grams of carbohydrates, and no salt or sugar per serving, according to the average consumption rate.

However, 150ml of seasoned rice vinegar includes 150 calories, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 40 grams of sugar, and 3.55 grams of salt. People only use 1 tablespoon (15ml) of rice vinegar in their recipes.


Rice vinegar is useful in cooking only because of its acidic, but rather sweet taste. Rice vinegar is commonly used during the initial phases of cooking.

On the other hand, rice wine is a fantastic ingredient and alcoholic drink with many varieties (Sake, Shaoxing, Mirin). If you’re using rice wine as a flavor enhancer in your dishes, add it toward the end.

Is rice wine vinegar the same as rice vinegar?

The answer to that perplexing myth is yes! Despite their mislabeled bottles, rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar are the same.

The word “rice wine vinegar” is simply a name for the fermentation processes that transform rice into alcohol and then vinegar.

Also Read: Best Champagne for Mimosas

Always Obtain The Correct Ingredient for Your Recipes

I’ll explain the distinctions between rice wine and rice vinegar further. Aside from sharing a similar Asian heritage and fermented rice as a core component, they vary in many aspects, including manufacturing procedure, flavor, nutrition, and usage.

Make certain you understand the directions in detail and have the correct materials. A mistake using rice wine instead of vinegar (or vice versa) will give your recipes a significantly different taste profile!

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