Rice wine is not only an ingredient used in Asian recipes. You can use it in different cuisines as it has a rich taste and it is easy to accommodate different types of ingredients.
Rice wine is off-white in color resembling white wine. It’s sweeter than other types of wine and it has less alcohol in it as well. Considering these characteristics, what can you replace rice wine with?
The best replacement for rice wine is white wine or gin. But, you can use other substitutes as well so, keep reading to learn how to save your recipes that ask for rice wine.
Substitutes for Rice Wine
The next substitutes are perfect for giving your food a special taste even if you don’t have rice wine on hand. You might have to adjust the rest of the seasonings if you want to maintain the sweetness of rice wine but that will depend strictly on your personal preferences.
1. White wine
As we mentioned, white wine tends to be the best substitute for rice wine in all aspects. It has the same color and a similar flavor so you can use it in the same ratio for all your recipes.
However, keep in mind that white wine is stronger in terms of alcohol content compared to rice wine. And it will not be as sweet. You can add sugar, honey, or other sweeteners of your choice to obtain a more similar flavor.
Using white wine instead of rice wine is a great idea for dishes with meat or in sauces. It will also taste great in salad dressings.
Gin in all its versions is also a great alternative to rice wine. It has a similar taste and almost the same color so your dish could turn out identical even if you used gin instead of rice wine.
You can use the same quantity of gin as you would use rice wine and adjust the rest of the seasonings to get a more similar taste as you please. Gin works best as a rice wine substitute in dressings and sauces. It will be great for beef dishes and fish recipes as well.
3. Dry Sherry
Dry Sherry is going to give your meals a unique flavor. It will taste deliciously equally with cold and cooked dishes. However, dry Sherry is not sweet so you might have to add sugar.
You can use the same amount of dry Sherry as you would use rice wine but for each tablespoon of Sherry add half a tablespoon of sugar. If you do that, your flavors will be similar to the dishes cooked with rice wine.
We don’t suggest using sweet Sherry since it tends to be sweeter than a rice wine and you can’t take the sweetness out of it. Use this alternative in sauces or marinates. And you will not regret it if the outcome will be a delicious dish for you and your family.
4. Apple juice
Apple juice can replace many types of wine including rice wine. This substitute has both an acidic taste and a sweet taste which helps your food have a rich flavor every time you use it.
You can use apple juice in salad dressings and when you cook vegetables, including in stir-fries recipes. When you use apple juice, keep the same ratio as you would use rice wine.
However, don’t expect the same flavor. Your food will, however, taste similar but it will not be as sweet and it will have a fruity taste that rice wine won’t give it.
5. White vinegar
White vinegar has the same color as rice wine which is the main reason why it makes for a good substitute. It also has a higher level of acidity than a rice wine. Thus, you might want to use less of it if you don’t want your food to be too acidic.
Keep in mind that white vinegar is not sweet. Therefore, you will have to add a sweetener of your choice in order to balance the flavors.
Use white vinegar instead of rice wine in fewer quantities. For every cup of rice wine, you want to start by using half a cup of white vinegar.
You can always increase the white vinegar quantity according to your taste. This will taste great in stews or marinates as well as stir-fries and salads.
7. Lemon juice
Lemon juice gives your food the acidity that rice wine would give it but not the sweetness of this ingredient. This is why it is very important to use lemon juice with caution if you want to have a dish that doesn’t taste too tart.
You can adjust its flavor by adding honey, sugar, or other sweeteners. In terms of ratio you can use half a cup of lemon juice for every cup of rice wine your recipe calls for.
If you need more liquid, you can always add more water until you get the consistency you want. Lemon juice is perfect for cold dishes such as salads.
8. Grape juice
Grape juice, especially white grape juice can substitute rice wine successfully if you use it correctly. Keep the same ratio as if you would be using rice wine and you will obtain a delicious taste.
Grape juice is fruity and sweet. It also has a reduced level of acidity. And even if its taste can vary from rice wine, it can also be a good substitute thanks to these features. Use in both stews and marinates. It goes great with chicken and fish dishes. However, it can also enrich the flavor of vegetable dishes.
9. Vegetable stock
If you are planning to make a stew, especially an Asian one, the recipe might call for rice wine. Instead of rice wine, you can always use classic vegetable stock.
Even if your dish contains meat, the vegetable stock will add to its flavor and give it a pleasant and defined taste. You will have to use more vegetable stock than you would use rice wine. The quantity will be up to you and your preference.
If you use it in stews or soups, make sure to keep tasting your food and skip water as vegetable stock should be enough to get the flavor you want.
10. Chicken stock
Chicken stock goes great for all stews, soups, or marinades that include chicken. Use this type of stock instead of rice wine even if it will not have the acidity or the sweetness of rice wine.
Unlike vegetable stock that will have some sweetness given by the veggies, this one has a more refined taste of chicken. Use as much stock as you need according to the recipe you are following. Add a sweetener to get the taste rice wine would give it.
What is a good substitute for Chinese rice wine?
The best substitute for Chinese rice wine remains white wine or even gin. You can use these substitutes in all types of dishes as they have almost the same color and a very similar flavor.
Regardless of the rice wine substitute you use, you will need to adjust the seasonings. You may need to add sugar or honey to get a sweeter flavor. This is why it is important to taste your food as you are cooking it to make sure you end up with the flavor you want.
Is rice wine vinegar the same as rice wine?
You might wonder if rice wine vinegar is identical to rice wine. They are very different which is why we didn’t suggest rice wine vinegar as a substitute for rice wine.
Rice wine is made of fermented rice while rice vinegar is made of fermented rice starches. The level of acidity is much higher in rice vinegar.
So, it will significantly alter the taste of your food which is why it can’t replace rice wine. This is also the reason why rice vinegar tends to be used in very small quantities compared to rice wine.
Rice wine, being it Huangjiu, mirin, or sake, can add a delicious taste to many Asian dishes but it is used in different other cuisines as well.
However, if you are missing this wine, you can successfully use one of the replacements in this guide. As long as you pay attention to the rest of the seasonings in your food, you will end up with a delicious dish.