Difference Between Shaoxing Wine and Rice Wine

You might have come across Shaoxing wine and rice wine and wondered about their difference. Well, they are from the same place, yet there are certain differences between them. Considering that you are not familiar with them, you will wonder about the Shaoxing wine vs. rice wine difference.

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One thing we know for sure is that there are different recipe outputs for rice wine and Shaoxing wine. It is therefore important to understand how they differ so you know when to use one or the other. Our question today is, is Shaoxing wine the same as rice wine?

Our post has every important detail you need to understand the difference between these two. We will also talk about the possibility of using one as a substitute for the other.

Are they the same?

Rice Wine
Rice Wine

The truth is, rice wine is not Shaoxing wine. We can say, however, that Shaoxing wine is a certain type of rice wine. The difference is, it has a lighter and richer taste, coupled with a darker color. Even though they are both cooking wines, they have different purposes when used in cooking.


Rice wine does not have a color – like water – while Shaoxing wine is brown. Shaoxing wine is made using glutinous rice, while rice wine is made using regular rice.

Taste and Flavor

The main Shaoxing wine vs. rice wine difference is the flavor and taste. Rice wine has a saltier, yet neutral flavor. Shaoxing wine has a certain saltiness but is rich in flavor.


As for the uses, there is a very wide variety of uses. Rice wine will enhance your food’s saltiness. Shaoxing wine, on the other hand, will enhance the flavor. Shaoxing wine will give you a richness and depth that is admired in chines food. Rice wine, however, will add some acidity to your food.

Using Shaoxing instead of Rice Wine

Shaoxing wine
Shaoxing wine

To be honest, you can choose to use Shaoxing instead of rice wine in your recipes. However, you should expect a certain change in the food’s taste.  The food will have a richer flavor, which is something you have to consider. Shaoxing wine features a richer flavor and a lighter saltiness, compared to rice wine. Therefore, your food might reduce saltiness and increase flavor.

You can also choose to use rice wine in place of Shaoxing wine. It will not give you reduced salt and increased flavor, but it features a manufacturing process that makes it the best substitute.

Also, read: Non-Alcoholic Substitutes for Chinese Cooking Wine


There is not much difference between these two when it comes to production and origin. However, their flavor and appearance can set them apart. We love that they would work in place of each other. Even so, it would be a great idea to consider how they can affect your recipe.


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