What Does Rice Wine Taste Like?

by Charlie
Alcoholic Japanese Sake Rice Wine

Have you come across a recipe that requires that you add sherry to what you are cooking? If you have, then you have some measure of how you use alcoholic beverages when cooking. Rice wine is an alcoholic beverage that is distilled from rice.

In China, you have Shaoxing, a very popular brand of rice wine. Rice wine is made by fermenting rice starch that has been converted to sugar. The process used to make it is very similar to how rice vinegar is made. But, rice wine and rice vinegar are two different things.

What does rice wine taste like? The taste of rice wine will depend on what type you have made or bought. Using Shaoxing as an example, rice wine has a sharp vinegary taste, it doesn’t smell like alcohol and for some, the taste can be very hard to describe. Some brands of rice wines can be spicy or savory depending on which or what ingredients they have used. Rice wine is used in cooking, especially Chinese cuisines.

When it comes to rice wines, it is hard to pin down one flavor, but in general, they have a tanginess to them, they can be sweet at times, and the spiciness is unmistakable.

Nutritional Benefits of Rice Wine

There are several health benefits that rice wine has been known to offer the body. Normal wine usually has an alcohol content of 10 to 20 percent. For rice wine, that percentage is higher, rice wines have 18 to 25 percent alcohol in them. It is for this reason that you shouldn’t gorge yourself on rice wine. Regardless of the benefits it offers, it can cause dizziness and would come with a very nasty hangover.

When consumed in the right amount, rice wine can do a whole lot of good. It contains antioxidants that could help prevent the formation of cancerous cells. These antioxidants also serve to protect the cells in the body from radical damage. This kind of damage can be done to the cells due to the build-up of oxidative stress. Antioxidants protect the cells by relieving that stress. They can also make the immune system stronger and protect the body from everyday illnesses like the common cold, coughing, the flu, and more. 

We have bacteria in our gut, the healthy kind. These bacteria help us in a lot of ways, it helps in digestion and overall well being of the body. Rice wine can help promote the health of the healthy kind of bacteria by fighting the unhealthy bacteria, thereby benefiting digestion and the overall wellbeing of the body. We have lactic acid and the healthy kind of bacteria in rice wine, this combination makes it a probiotic and it promotes stomach health.

Rice wine might also be able to slow down the aging effects that the sun has on our skin and protect us from ultraviolet rays.

Alcohol can impair judgment and even inhibit motor function in some cases. It can cause blackouts or hallucinations. It is never okay to have too much alcohol to drink. Excessive drinking can cause serious health complications and even death in some cases.

Culinary Uses of Rice Wine

Cooking with rice wine is very easy, especially if you are following a recipe. If you have a bottle of rice wine in your kitchen cabinet and don’t know what to do with it, just look for a recipe that requires that you use rice wine and experiment.

Rice wine can replace Sherry or white wine in the kitchen. Aside from the fact that you can use rice wine in your cooking, you can also drink it directly from the refrigerator or after it has been heated. 

In Chinese cooking, rice wine is a very important ingredient. They even have Chinese cooking wine, a rice wine that is specifically made for cooking. The taste of the Chinese cooking wine is harsh and salty much like soy sauce and is not suitable for drinking. 

Rice wine can be used in marinades, it can also be used to add flavor to soups, stews, and even more complicated dishes. You can use it in stir fry dishes, dumplings, for meat, and even in vegetables. Dishes like clay pot chicken rice, beef, and broccoli chow mein, kung pao chicken, char siu, and potstickers (foods that tend to stick to the pot while you are cooling them) all make use of rice wine.

What is the History of Rice Wine? How to Procure It?

Rice wine is gotten from rice by fermentation and distillation. It is consumed in Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, and East Asia. It is prominent in Chinese cuisine and Japanese cooking culture (Mirin). The use of rice wine for culinary purposes is embedded in many of the cultures in the Asian continent. There is a list of rice wines out there, we are going to list them and their origin:

Sake, Mirin – Japan

Pangasi, Tapui, Agkud – Philippines

Sato – Thailand

Lugdi, Laopani, Handia, Hariya, Cholai, Chhaang – India

Shaoxing, Choujiu, Haunjiu – China

If you want to get rice wine, you can get them from grocery stores, or make yours from fermented rice.

What Does Rice Wine Add to a Dish?

Rice wine brings depth and sweetness to any dish. It is aged and kind of mellow, so it will hold up in stir fry dishes or when you use it for stocks like chicken or beef. Rice wine works better than rice vinegar in most dishes. For rice vinegar to create a similar effect, you have to use a very little amount.

Facts You Don’t Know About Rice Wine

  • Rice wine is very aromatic, it has a mixed taste and flavor that is quite hard to describe, and it doesn’t smell anything like alcohol.
  • Shaoxing wine is a brand and variety of rice wine, there is nothing like original rice wine with a specific flavor. Rice wine can be spicy, sweet, tasty, or have a nutty flavor depending on what you want to use it for.

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