Shaoxing wine is a type of Chinese rice wine that is more commonly used for cooking rather than drinking. It has a complex and sweet flavor and is a staple ingredient in Chinese cuisine. Unlike regular rice wine, Shaoxing wine is made with brown rice and thus has a deep amber-brown color.
Shaoxing wine helps elevate the depth in flavor, texture, and color of various dishes including stir-fries, noodles, sauces, and marinades. If you don’t have this key ingredient on hand, you can still give your dishes that much-sought-after depth and complexity with these Shaoxing wine substitutes.
1. Dry Sherry
Sherry is a type of Spanish wine prepared from three types of grapes. It has nutty and sweet flavors and is available in different types. If you want to recreate the flavor of Shaoxing wine, dry sherry is a good substitute. Dry sherry has a crisp, tangy flavor that lends itself beautifully for both drinking and cooking purposes.
You can use dry sherry to replace Shaoxing wine in soups, sauces, meat dishes, and more. However, keep in mind that it tends to be stronger than Shaoxing wine, so you’ll have to be careful with the amount used to avoid overpowering your recipes. Additionally, bear in mind even the driest sherry can be a touch too sweet. Make sure you start with a small amount and add more if needed after tasting.
1 cup Shaoxing wine = 1/2 cup dry sherry.
2. Dry White Wine
Dry white wine offers a wonderful marriage of the sweet flavors of grape with the tangy and sour aromas of the liquid it is fermented in. Dry white wine has a crisp, rice wine-like finish, so it can be used to replace Shaoxing wine in a pinch.
You can use dry white wine in lighter dishes like chicken, seafood, and veggies. However, most dry white wines are sweeter than Shaoxing wine, so make sure you taste them to make sure they’re not too sweet. Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc will work like a charm for creating a close match to Shaoxing wine.
1 cup Shaoxing wine = 1/3 cup dry white wine + 1/2 teaspoon lime juice (for acidity).
Gin is an alcoholic drink that gets its flavor from juniper berries. It has a distinct taste with citrus and spice notes, so it will differ in flavor from the more intense Shaoxing wine. However, because gin resembles white rice wine in flavor, it is a close enough substitute for Shaoxing wine when you’re in a bind.
If you’re using gin to substitute Shaoxing wine, it would be wise to restrict its use to recipes that use small amounts and/or use other strong-flavored ingredients in conjunction with it. This is because gin has a strong alcoholic taste that will not only stand out in your dish but will also require a longer cooking time. So, start with a small amount, taste-test, and then adjust as you go to get the desired results.
1 cup Shaoxing wine = 1/8 to 1/4 cup gin.
Mirin is a Japanese rice wine used specifically for cooking purposes. It is made of rice yeast and alcohol, with different varieties offering different levels of alcohol. It has a distinctive sweet flavor with umami qualities, providing a similar flavor profile and texture to Shaoxing.
You can use mirin in marinades, udon, and sauces to add both flavor and body to your dish. However, keep in mind that mirin lacks the nutty aroma of Shaoxing wine and is more potent, but you can remedy that by adding some salt or dashi powder. Additionally, because it is much sweeter than Shaoxing wine, you will need to reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe to balance the flavors.
For dishes with added sweeteners, 1 cup Shaoxing wine = 1 cup mirin.
For savory dishes, 1 cup Shaoxing wine = 3/4 cup mirin.
Sake is a beverage made from fermented rice. It has a light color and sweet, fruity flavors. You can find different types of sake, so if you want to use it for cooking and not drinking, we would recommend that you use cooking sake. Cooking sake brings a similar, although much milder, depth and complexity to dishes.
You can use cooking sake to replace Shaoxing wine in many dishes like sauces, fish, and meat. While it is milder in flavor than regular sake, it still tends to be sweeter than Shaoxing wine. But, don’t worry, it will not overwhelm your dish when used in the same amount as Shaoxing wine. If you can’t find cooking sake, you can use regular sake by diluting it with water.
1 cup Shaoxing wine = 1/2 cup sake.
Stock is one of the best non-alcoholic substitutes for Shaoxing wine. Since you can make stock with various ingredients like beef, chicken, veggies, and mushroom, each variety brings a different flavor to the dish. Although it won’t taste the same as the complex flavors of Shaoxing wine, it will help you customize different flavors in your recipe as per your preferences.
You can use stock in savory dishes like stir-fries, sauces, noodles, meats, and other recipes where it’s used in small amounts. You can also combine stock with some brown sugar or rice vinegar to give your dish more depth. Just make sure you watch the amount of stock used, as adding more will not only make your dish taste too much like stock but will also give it a thinner consistency.
1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine = 1 teaspoon stock. (Use it only in dishes that call for 2 or fewer tablespoons of Shaoxing wine.)
7. White Grape Juice
White grape juice is made using green-skinned grapes. It has a light yet refreshing flavor with herbal and tart notes. White grape juice is sweeter than Shaoxing wine, but it will give your dish the touch of acidity you get from the original ingredient.
It is best to use white grape juice in recipes that only require a small amount of Shaoxing wine, such as glazes and marinades. If you want to use it in recipes with a large amount of Shaoxing wine, make sure to mix in some vinegar to cut the sweetness of white grape juice. But, this will give your dish a different flavor, texture, and acidity, so if that won’t work for your dish, it’s best to use the other substitutes for Shaoxing wine.
1 cup Shaoxing wine = 1/2 cup white grape juice + 1 tablespoon rice vinegar.