Perhaps you need a Shaoxing wine substitute because you've run out mid-recipe, or maybe you've never heard of it and that's ok! No need to worry if Shaoxing wine is on an ingredient list because there are plenty of alternatives that will work in its place! Any Shaoxing wine substitute from this list will do the job, just pick what works for you and get to cooking!
Easy Shaoxing Wine Substitutes
Wine is a common ingredient across the world. While a splash of your favorite drinking wine is a great addition to many recipes, special cooking wine is also used frequently.
Shaoxing wine is a wonderful wine for cooking. Hailing from Shaoxing, this Chinese rice wine can elevate both the flavor and texture of dishes.
Rice wines from other countries are often made from white rice, but Shaoxing is made from brown rice which lends to it being called 'yellow wine'. It is also aged for 10 years.
This combination lends itself to a complex flavor that adds depth to stews, sauces, soups, and noodle dishes. It is also a great choice for glazes and marinades.
Although it helps add depth and flavor, Shaoxing wine has a mild flavor profile compared to other wines. It is also an extremely dry wine.
Why You May Need a Shaoxing Rice Wine Substitute In Cooking
A common need for a substitute is simply running out mid-recipe. Another important need for a substitute is when you are exploring new dishes.
If you are trying out a new Asian-inspired recipe, then you may not want to invest in a bottle of a unique ingredient like Shaoxing wine, also called shaohsing, or shàoxīng jiǔ (绍兴酒). Moreover, depending on where you live, you may not have access to this specific wine.
Using a substitute is a great place to begin exploring new recipes, without the investment. Luckily, there are several great substitutes for Shaoxing wine!
If you like the flavor of the dish with one of these substitutes, then you can always seek out the real thing to try later.
1. Dry Sherry
If you are unable to find Shaoxing wine where you live, dry sherry may be your best substitute. Dry sherry is a Spanish wine that is loved for both drinking and cooking.
Even though sherry comes from Spain, it is popular worldwide. You will be able to easily find it at your liquor store.
There are different types of sherry, so make sure you buy dry sherry. Even when you use the driest of the sherry wines, you will find that it will still be sweeter than Shaoxing wine.
To avoid making your dish too sweet, use half the amount of dry sherry. Dry sherry is great for sauces and soups. It also pairs well with meat dishes.
If you have access to a wider selection of wines, look for mirin. Mirin is a Japanese rice wine made specifically for cooking.
Mirin has a similar flavor profile to Shaoxing. This provides a similar outcome to your recipe in both flavor and texture.
Compared to Shaoxing, mirin is a bit sweeter. If your recipe calls for additional sweetener (sugar, honey, etc.) you can accommodate the extra sweetness in the mirin by leaving out some of the added sugar.
In recipes where you can leave out some sugar, use mirin in a 1:1 substitution for Shaoxing.
When replacing Shaoxing wine with mirin in a savory recipe (that doesn’t have any sweetener), use only ¾ cup of mirin in place of 1 cup of Shaoxing.
If you can’t find mirin, more than likely your liquor or wine store will have sake. Yes, the same sake you would order with your sushi.
Sake is another type of rice wine. Made in Japan, it is known as a drinking wine around the world. However, like other wines, it can also be used for cooking.
Traditional sake is sweeter than both mirin and Shaoxing. Therefore, begin by using only half the amount that the recipe calls for.
4. Cooking Sake
Some stores carry sake that is specifically for cooking. The flavor of cooking sake is different from traditional drinking sake.
While it is still slightly sweeter than Shaoxing wine, it is not nearly as sweet as regular sake. Therefore, you can use cooking sake in a 1:1 substitution in most recipes.
Of all the rice wines, Cheongju may be the hardest to find. Made in Korea, this rice wine is used for both drinking and cooking.
Its mildly sweet flavor has been a favorite for centuries in Korea. It was used in royal courts and is still used today as a ceremonial beverage.
The results from cooking with Cheongju will be similar to Shaoxing. However, its flavor is crisper than Shaoxing and sweeter. Begin by using half the amount the recipe calls for. If needed, add more as desired.
7. Dry White Wine
When it comes to an easy substitute, your favorite white wine may be the best choice. Especially if you already have a bottle at home.
Even a dry white wine will still be sweeter than Shaoxing. So, make sure you choose a truly dry wine - like a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
While it is not an exact flavor match for Shaoxing, the right ratio and a simple modification can create a close alternative.
Use ⅓ of the amount, plus a small amount of lime juice to add acidity: ⅓ cup of white wine + ½ teaspoon lime juice to replace 1 cup of Shaoxing wine.
8. Dry Vermouth
If a martini is your drink of choice, you might have another quick and easy substitute at home. Dry vermouth.
Dry vermouth is one of the few substitutes with a similar dryness to Shaoxing wine. However, vermouth is a much stronger alcohol.
The alcohol in vermouth can quickly overpower the flavor of a dish. To avoid this, start with a very small amount. Moreover, pair it with ingredients that already have a strong flavor profile (such as meat).
One more substitute you may have at home is gin. Gin is not an exact flavor match for Shaoxing wine. However, gin faintly resembles the taste of rice wine.
Although it has a faint semblance to rice wine, gin also has a strong alcohol flavor. Therefore, it is best used in small quantities and paired with other strong-flavored foods.
Like dry vermouth, begin by using a small fraction of what the recipe calls for in Shaoxing wine. Start with as little as ⅛ to ¼ the amount. It is better to start slow and add more if needed.
Note on cooking with alcohol
If a substitute has a higher percentage of alcohol, it will need to cook longer to cook the alcohol out. Therefore, add the substitute earlier in the cooking process, or add extra time to the overall cooking time.
For example, Shaoxing wine is 17-18% alcohol (depending on the brand). However, gin is 40% alcohol. If you use gin, make sure to start with a small amount and cook longer.
Even though dry vermouth tastes more like alcohol, it has a similar percentage to Shaoxing wine (15-18%). Therefore, the cooking time does not need to be adjusted.
10. White Grape Juice
If you prefer to cook without wine or liquor, then a little bit of white grape juice will work. White grape juice is much sweeter. However, it has a small amount of acidity that will help elevate the flavor of your recipe.
White grape juice is best when you only need a small amount of Shaoxing wine. The sugar in the juice is also great when needed to make a glaze or marinade.
11. White Grape Juice + Rice Vinegar
While you can use white grape juice on its own, it is better if you have a little bit of rice wine vinegar to add.
Rice vinegar is not the same as rice wine. They are both made from fermented rice. However, the overall process produces different acidity, flavor, and texture.
Compared to Shaoxing wine, rice vinegar is extremely acidic (and somewhat sweet). Also, rice vinegar (sometimes called rice wine vinegar) does not contain alcohol.
When you need to substitute for a larger quantity of Shaoxing wine, include a small amount of rice vinegar to cut the sweetness in the grape juice.
Use ½ cup white grape juice + 1 tablespoon rice vinegar for every 1 cup of Shaoxing wine.
Whether you're making soups, stews, noodles, marinades, or sauces, we hope you found a Shaoxing wine substitute that works for you! Tell us all about what you're cooking in the comment section!
Shaoxing Wine Substitute
Best Shaoxing Wine Alternatives
- ½ tablespoon dry sherry
- ¾ tablespoon mirin
- Use less for each dry sherry wine and mirin when substituting for shaoxing rice wine. Both of these best flavor matches are slightly sweeter than shaxing.
- Start with ½ the amount of dry sherry, or ¾ the amount of mirin to replace the shaoxing wine called for in any recipe. Taste and adjust as needed.½ tablespoon dry sherry, ¾ tablespoon mirin
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!