Rice Wine Substitute: Discover Delicious Alternatives for Cooking


Looking to add a touch of exotic flavor to your dishes but don’t have rice wine on hand?

Fear not, for there are various alternatives waiting to be discovered!

From the crisp notes of pale dry sherry to the subtle profiles of sake and mirin, the world of rice wine substitutes is brimming with possibilities.

In this article, we’ll explore a delightful array of choices that will have you reaching for your apron and culinary creativity.

But beware – not all substitutes are created equal, and we’ll also uncover some surprises you’ll want to avoid.

So, prepare your taste buds for a tantalizing adventure through the realm of rice wine substitutes!

rice wine substitute

A suitable substitute for rice wine, when it comes to cooking, can be found among the alternatives listed below.

These options can be used as equivalents to rice wine depending on the recipe and desired flavor profile: pale dry sherry, gin, dry white wine, sake, mirin, or non-alcoholic options such as apple juice or grape juice.

It is important to avoid using cooking wines and Chinese rice-wine vinegar as substitutes, as they may not yield the desired results.

Key Points:

  • Suitable substitutes for rice wine when cooking include:
  • pale dry sherry
  • gin
  • dry white wine
  • sake
  • mirin
  • non-alcoholic options such as apple juice or grape juice.
  • Choosing the substitute depends on the recipe and desired flavor profile.
  • Cooking wines and Chinese rice-wine vinegar should be avoided as substitutes.
  • The substitutes listed are considered to yield better results.
  • It is important to consider the taste and purpose of rice wine in the recipe when choosing a substitute.
  • Non-alcoholic options like apple juice or grape juice can be used as alternatives.

rice wine substitute – Watch Video


Pro Tips:

1. Did you know that one popular substitute for rice wine, especially in cooking, is apple cider vinegar? It provides a tangy flavor and acidity similar to rice wine.
2. In ancient China, people used an unconventional substitute for rice wine called huangjiu, which is a type of fermented rice beverage. It was commonly used as a traditional remedy for ailments and to improve digestion.
3. Sake, a Japanese rice wine, can also be used as a substitute for Chinese rice wine. While the flavors differ, sake adds a unique complexity to dishes while still providing the required moisture and depth.
4. Another substitute for rice wine in recipes is dry white wine. Though it doesn’t have the same rice flavor, it has a similar level of acidity, making it a suitable alternative for deglazing pans and adding a subtle savory note to dishes.
5. In Korean cuisine, a popular alternative to rice wine is a mixture of soy sauce and sugar. This combination adds a hint of sweetness and umami to dishes while providing a depth of flavor similar to that of rice wine.

Pale Dry Sherry

When it comes to finding a suitable substitute for rice wine, pale dry sherry is a popular choice. Its nutty and subtle flavor profile makes it an excellent alternative in various Asian and Western cuisines. Pale dry sherry adds a unique depth of flavor to your dishes without overpowering them. It can be used in:

  • marinades
  • stir-fries
  • sauces
  • even desserts.

When cooking with pale dry sherry as a rice wine substitute, it is important to remember that it is a fortified wine. This means that it contains alcohol, and some of it may not evaporate completely during the cooking process. However, the overall flavor of the dish will not be significantly affected.


Another surprising substitute for rice wine is gin. Gin’s botanical flavors, predominantly juniper, can add an interesting twist to your recipes. However, it is essential to use a good quality and mild gin to avoid overpowering the other flavors in your dish.

Gin works particularly well in recipes that require a subtle hint of botanicals, such as seafood dishes, salad dressings, and light sauces. The alcohol content in gin will evaporate during the cooking process, leaving behind a delightful flavor without the intense alcoholic taste.

Dry White Wine

A classic choice for substituting rice wine is dry white wine. Its versatility and wide availability make it an accessible option for most home cooks. When selecting a dry white wine, opt for one that is not oaky or heavily flavored, as these can significantly alter the taste of your dish.

Dry white wine can be used in a wide range of recipes, including risottos, pasta sauces, and creamy dishes. It adds a touch of acidity and complexity to your cooking, enhancing the flavors without overwhelming them. Be sure to check the alcohol content before using, as some recipes may not require the added alcoholic content.


For those seeking an authentic alternative to rice wine, sake is an excellent choice. Sake is a traditional Japanese rice wine with a mild, slightly sweet flavor profile that complements numerous Asian cuisines. It can be used interchangeably with rice wine in marinades, glazes, and sauces, adding a distinct umami taste to your dishes.

When using sake as a substitute for rice wine, it is essential to select a type that matches the flavor profile desired for your recipe. Sake comes in different varieties, such as junmai, honjozo, and daiginjo, each with its own unique characteristics. Experimenting with different types of sake will allow you to discover new flavors in your culinary endeavors.


Mirin, a sweet Japanese rice wine, is an excellent substitute for rice wine in various dishes. It adds a delicate sweetness and depth to recipes while providing a glossy finish. Mirin is commonly used in teriyaki sauce, glazes, and marinades to enhance the flavors of meat, fish, and vegetables.

It is important to note that mirin has a higher sugar content compared to rice wine. Therefore, when using mirin as a substitute, adjustments to the overall sweetness of the recipe may be necessary. Additionally, mirin is a slightly lower-alcohol alternative, making it suitable for those who prefer to minimize alcohol in their cooking.

Non-Alcoholic Options

For those who prefer not to use alcohol or want to create non-alcoholic versions of recipes that call for rice wine, there are several alternatives available. Two popular choices are apple juice and grape juice. These options provide a mild sweetness and a fruity undertone that can mimic the flavors of rice wine.

Apple juice works well in recipes that contain pork, poultry, or fruits, as it complements their flavors and enhances the overall taste. Grape juice, on the other hand, is a versatile option that can be used in a wide range of recipes, including sauces, marinades, and desserts. Experimentation is key when using non-alcoholic alternatives, as the flavor may differ from the original recipe.

Cooking Wines Not Recommended

Cooking wines are readily available and inexpensive, but they are generally not recommended as substitutes for rice wine. Cooking wines often contain added salt, preservatives, and artificial flavors, which can significantly alter the taste and quality of your dishes. They lack the subtle nuances and complexity of true rice wine substitutes, potentially leading to a less satisfying culinary experience.

To ensure the best possible flavor in your recipes, it is advisable to opt for higher-quality alternatives. The slight increase in price will be well worth the improvement in taste and overall enjoyment of your cooking.

  • Avoid cooking wines as substitutes for rice wine
  • Cooking wines contain added salt, preservatives, and artificial flavors
  • Higher-quality alternatives are recommended for better flavor
  • Investing in higher-quality alternatives improves taste and cooking experience

Chinese Rice-Wine Vinegar Not Recommended

While Chinese rice-wine vinegar may seem like an obvious substitute for rice wine due to its name, it is not recommended in most cases. Chinese rice-wine vinegar has a distinct sour flavor and lacks the sweetness and depth found in rice wine. It is best to reserve Chinese rice-wine vinegar for its intended purpose – as a vinegar – rather than trying to use it as a direct substitute in recipes that call for rice wine.

In conclusion, finding a suitable substitute for rice wine allows you to explore a range of flavors and experiment with diverse cuisines. Whether you choose pale dry sherry, gin, dry white wine, sake, mirin, or non-alcoholic options like apple juice or grape juice, each alternative brings its own unique characteristics to your dishes. Just remember to avoid cooking wines and Chinese rice-wine vinegar, as their flavors may not complement your recipes as effectively.

Happy cooking and enjoy discovering new taste sensations!

  • Chinese rice-wine vinegar is not a recommended substitute for rice wine due to its distinct sour flavor.
  • Explore a range of flavors and cuisines by using suitable substitutes for rice wine.
  • Suitable alternatives include pale dry sherry, gin, dry white wine, sake, mirin, apple juice, and grape juice.
  • Avoid using cooking wines and Chinese rice-wine vinegar as substitutes for rice wine.


You may need to know these questions about rice wine substitute

What can be used instead of rice wine?

If you find yourself without rice wine, there are several alternatives that can be used in its place. Dry sherry, with its nutty and rich flavor, can be a suitable substitute. White wine, particularly if it is dry, can also add a similar depth of flavor to your dish. For a slightly different twist, dry vermouth can provide a herbaceous and slightly bitter note. Alternatively, if you prefer a non-alcoholic option, white grape juice can offer a touch of sweetness and acidity to your recipe.

Can I omit rice wine from a recipe?

Yes, you can definitely omit rice wine from a recipe and use dry sherry as a substitute. Dry sherry, hailing from the sunny region of southern Spain, is an excellent alternative due to its fortified nature, making it slightly high in alcohol content. However, it’s crucial to opt for dry sherry over the sweeter cream sherry option to maintain the desired taste profile in your dish. By substituting rice wine with dry sherry, you can still add a delightful depth and complexity to your recipe.

What is the closest wine to rice wine?

The closest wine to rice wine would be Mirin, a traditional Japanese condiment made from fermented rice. Although it is sweeter than Shaoxing rice wine, it can serve as a suitable substitute due to its similar rice-based origins. Mirin is commonly used in cooking and has a delicate flavor profile that complements various dishes, making it a popular choice in Japanese cuisine.

Can I use white rice vinegar instead of rice wine?

Yes, it is not recommended to use white rice vinegar as a substitute for rice wine. Although both are derived from rice, they serve different purposes in cooking. Rice wine adds flavor and depth to dishes, while rice vinegar is tart and acidic, often used for pickling or as a condiment. Instead, consider using pale dry sherry or dry white wine as an alternative to rice wine, and apple cider vinegar as a suitable replacement for rice vinegar. These substitutions will ensure the desired taste and balance in your recipes.

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