Chinese cuisine is popularly known for its rich flavor and artistic nature of meal preparation. What most people don’t understand is that the natives use unique ingredients and cooking style to come up with the spicy yet healthy delicacies.
One of the unique ingredients in almost every dish in China is Shaoxing wine. While the westerners believe that cooking wine is only meant for cooking, in China we believe that you shouldn’t cook with any wine that you would never drink.
I know that whenever you are out for your shopping at the grocery stores you may have noticed a list of wines being promoted as cooking wine. This is mostly used for cooking only especially in the western countries.
I love cooking wines because they not only enhance the flavor of your food but you can also enjoy drinking.
Unlike regular wines that are naturally flavorful, strong in taste and finer, the cooking wine is your go-to wine that will only add the exact flavor you desire.
According to wine folly, the difference in your food is the kind of wine you use.
THE 6 TYPES OF COOKING WINES
Dry red and white wines: the wines are best used when you are making beef stews, cream soups, wine reduction sauces and when you need to make wine-based sauces.
Dry nutty or oxidized wines: these ones are known to add the richer flavor to your meals than dry ones. They are good with your mushroom gravies on chicken and pork chops, shrimp and rich fish like halibut.
Sweet nutty/oxidized wines: it takes about 10 years to age and can last about a month after you open them. It’s perfect for syrups on desserts with nuts, caramel and vanilla ice-cream.
Sweet fortified red wines: for your chocolate sauces, chocolate cakes, savory port sauces and steaks with blue cheese
Sweet white wines: this is perfect for poaching pears, shrimp, sweet butter sauces for flaky fish and lobsters.
Rice wines: these are good for marinades, glazes and Asian barbecue sauce.
CHINESE COOKING WINE
When it comes to Chinese cooking wine, it’s important to note that the wine is as essential as the soy sauce in some specific meals. This is to mean; a lot of Chinese dishes use alcohol to enhance the flavor.
You see, when it comes to cooking, I don’t compromise on the taste because it will tell whether you made a perfect meal or not.
With that said:
WHAT IS SHAOXING WINE
This literary means yellow wine which is specifically a rice wine. It’s made from fermented glutinous rice that is sweeter and stronger than mijiu rice wine. It is native to Shaoxing, in Zhejiang province. It’s usually translucent, amber in color and contains about 14-20% alcohol.
It’s an essential ingredient to most of the Chinese meals and it tastes like dry sherry. This wine works well as a marinade but it’s also used for most stir-frying dishes which are common here.
Note that this aromatic and nutty tasting wine is the regular cooking wine in China.
Whether it’s supposed to act as a marinade, dumpling fillings, your stir-fries seasoning doesn’t matter. Just know that whenever you simmer it with your soy sauce; the delicious taste, aroma and flavor will make your cooking stand out.
WHERE TO BUY SHAOXING WINE
While you may think that since you live in China, finding Shaoxing wine is easy, it’s never easy. In fact, the probability of finding it in your nearby grocery store is next to impossible.
You can find your best wine in big Asian markets if you are in the US or the best place to find it is on Amazon.
You can also get them in the various cooking stores. I often buy my Shaoxing wine from Rakuten global market and I’ve never been disappointed. Whenever you visit the Chinese markets you will find the Shaoxing wines at the frozen food section.
One thing you should be careful about though is buying the wine kind that has increased amount of salt in it because that tastes awful.
THE SHAOXING WINE SUBSTITUTE
I know how challenging it is to find a good Shaoxing wine especially when you are not in the country. However, you can always substitute the wine with another dry sherry or better yet a Japanese sake.
1. Holland house cooking wine
This high-quality product is made from natural ingredients. It’s one of your best sherry cooking wines. You may use It for your dessert dishes, enhancing soups and sauces and perking up the flavor of your rice.
The nutty, caramel-like mild sherry wine is light golden in color and has a rich tasting flavor.
This is a Japanese rice wine that is essential for Japanese cooking.it is used as a meat tenderizer, gives deep flavor to the dishes cooked, and removes the fish odor.
2. Kikkoman yorishi
The cooking sake is used in various Japanese dishes. It’s from the same mirin family although it has a sweet taste. The alcohol in it helps the ingredients to absorb flavor and like other cooking wines, it helps to remove the bad odor from fish and meat.
It’s used in marinades and sauces but it has a lower alcoholic content of about 15-19%.
- Fujian Qinghong rice wine
Aside from your famous Shaoxing cooking wine, you may also use Fujian wine. It is made from glutinous rice and red rice yeast. It is also one of the few cooking wines that do not have excess salt. You may, therefore, drink or taste it.
Note that the wine takes about 3 years to mature up. And works best for your marinades, stir-fries and other Asian dishes you intend to prepare.
- Dry white wine
Although Shaoxing wine is the most recommended wine for Chinese cuisines a dry white wine will most likely be a perfect substitute when you need the marination. Note that, a dry white wine is basically any white wine that isn’t sweet.
You can use sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, pinot gris, pinot blanc or dry sparkling wines.
THE 10 SHAOXINE WINES TO BUY
1. Shaohsing (shaoxing) Rice Cooking Wine
This adds an authentic flavor to any of your Asian dishes giving it a pleasant aftertaste. Its superior and subtle taste will give you an excellent flavor which will make your dish shine amongst other meals. I love the fact that it brings the full flavor of your stir-fries, braised products and meat roasts or grills.
If you want that nice rice wine and wonderful taste in your Chinese cuisine with robust flavor, choose this wine. Note that, you only need to use a little since a little Shaoxing wine goes a long way. So, for your authentic Chinese cuisine, don’t miss a bottle of this flavorful wine.
2. Soeos Shaohsing Rice Cooking Wine
It’s all true to say that Shaoxing wine is one of the famous varieties of Chinese authentic wines. You can use this wine for your meat dishes, drunken fish drunken shrimp and drunken crab among others. This wine from soeos is amber in color and full of natural flavor as well as aroma.
Most people think it is soy sauce because of its color although it’s not. If you are familiar with mijiu wine then you should know that this is a little stronger in flavor than mijiu wine. Its major use is to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients in your meal.
3. Qian Hu Chinese Shaohsing Rice Cooking Wine
Believe me when I say that this should be your on the go-to cooking wine. I love stir-fry dishes but before I discovered this wine the dishes always seemed to lack something. I later found out that its full flavor and color to my dishes is what was missing.
The wine is going to make you lick your fingers if you love pork spare ribs because the taste is amazing. Note, if you have been looking for a must-have wine that will serve you when you want to prepare the different kinds of Asian dishes, this is it.
4. 1x Shaoxing Cooking Wine
This Chinese authentic wine is well known around the Asian community but also around the globe. The chili black bean sauce that is added to your package is exactly what you need to further enhance the meal. It is a combination of soybeans and chili oil.
The great aroma is something close to the remains of pineapples and savory fermented fish. The beans have a crisp texture with a clean lingering heat. You can use it when preparing the pork or plain rice. In addition, you could use it in the company of flavors like ginger, scallions and soy sauce.
5. SHAOHSING Premium HuaDiao
This is your other product that will enhance the flavors of your dishes. You may use it for your stir-fries, marinades and sauces.
6. Shaohsing Rice Cooking Wine 750ML
This is an amazing wine with a wonderful taste. It known for its subtle taste with a strong flavor. For your soups, marinades and sauces full flavor, go for this wine.
If you are like me and like to try out every new ingredient in the market then this will surely satisfy your cooking desires. Many people love the tropical twist flavor and this cooking wine focuses majorly on that. Besides, you are given a gum gift. Here is an amazing ingredient for your kung pao chicken.
7. Yuki jiuniang (Chu Niang) Shaoxing rice wine
This is used to produce the natural flavor and sweetness of every Asian dish. The chu niang adds a special flavor to the wine which makes the wine assume the profound flavor. I like the fact that even the packaging used is comfortable and easy to use.
It further contains ingredients that will reduce the strong awful smell of fish and meat. The cooking wine introduces you to the natural sweetness and deep flavors of any dish. It’s a good wine to use when making your mapo tofu, stews and stir-fried dishes.
8. Koon Chun Black Vinegar 20.3 oz+Shaohsing Rice Cooking Wine
This is an amazing product that is made in the USA. It may very well serve the Asians living in the US and its environs. The brand is common in the Asian market which can only be for the fact that the products they sell are highly rated.
The product will serve you when you need to braise your meats, stir-fry or braise your dishes. You see, being a rice wine, the drink happens to be highly flavored and with an intense aroma which is exactly what would enrich your meal.
9. 1x Shaoxing Cooking Wine 24.4oz. 1x Preserved Duck Eggs
As we have seen in the preceding reviews, Shaoxing wine is one major cooking ingredient in most of the Asian meals. Being an international cooking wine there are various brands that compete for your attention.
This particular brand is another one of my favorite brands because of the duck eggs. The gently cooked, salted duck eggs that have the bright-red orange yolk is commonly used by the people from the west.
However, this preserved kind is a Chinese favorite. It’s soaked in a salted solution that makes it acquire the briny aroma. Furthermore, it has a delicately complex flavor which makes it suitable to serve with rice congee.
10. SHAOHSING RICE COOKING WINE 640ML
This brand comes with a vipo fork as you can see. You may use it both as a beverage and as a cooking wine. The manufacturer makes large quantities of this wine and stores them over a long period of time just like the normal grape wine.
The wine is bottled to suit your domestic consumption as well as exportation to other countries. A sweet aged Ying Feng Shaoxing cooking wine takes years in the barrels just like grape wine. Enjoy your stir-fries, glazes and sauces with the addition of this wine.