15 Shaoxing Wine Substitutes According to Food Scientists

Shaoxing wine is a popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine, enhancing the dishes’ unique flavor. However, you can run out of Shaoxing wine sometimes.

Luckily, there are many Shaoxing wine substitutes that you can use in its place. Each substitute brings a different flavor to the dish.

This article will explore the best 15 Shaoxing wine substitutes and how to use them. So, let’s dive into this post for more details!

What is Shaoxing Wine?

Shaoxing wine is one of the Chinese rice wines that people have used in cooking for centuries. It originated in the Shaoxing region of China.

People make Shaoxing wine from fermented glutinous rice, water, and wheat yeast, and it has a unique flavor profile with a nutty aroma.

Shaoxing wine has a rich plus complex flavor. It has become popular outside China in recent years because many Western people include it in their dishes.

Shaoxing Wine Substitutes

If you are excited to try a new Chinese recipe but suddenly find out you’re running out of Shaoxing wine. Don’t worry! Let me show you right now!

1. Dry Sherry

Dry sherry is one type of fortified wine that originates in Southern Spain. People use white grapes to make dry sherry and add a small proportion of brandy to increase the alcohol content.

Dry sherry contains a higher alcohol content than Shaoxing wine. So when you substitute it for Shaoxing wine, you may need to make some adjustments. In general, you can mix one part of sherry with two parts of water.

Dry sherry

2. Mirin

If Shaoxing wine originated in China, its counterpart, mirin, is Japanese rice wine. People commonly use it in Japanese cuisine. Like Shaoxing wine, it has a sweet and slightly acidic flavor that can enhance the taste of dishes.

While mirin has a lower alcohol content than Shaoxing wine, you can still use it as a substitute in recipes that call for Shaoxing wine. I recommend using a one-to-one ratio when using mirin as a substitute for Shaoxing wine.

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3. Gin

Gin is a type of alcoholic spirit that people often use juniper berries and other botanicals as their primary materials.

While you can use gin as a creative substitute for Shaoxing wine, remember its flavor profile is distinct from rice wine. Gin has a strong juniper flavor that can affect the taste of dishes when used as a substitute.

Because gin and Shaoxing wine are relatively highly alcoholic wines, you can interchangeably use them in different recipes.

4. Sake

Like mirin, sake is another type of Japanese rice wine that you can use as a substitute for Shaoxing wine in some recipes.

Sake has a mild sweetness and a complex flavor that can enhance a dish’s taste. However, sweeter sake may alter the dish’s flavor.

If you are looking for a suitable type of sake that can better mimic the flavor of Shaoxing wine, look for a variety of sake with a higher acidity content.

Additionally, it’s important to use high-quality sake to ensure the best results in your cooking.

5. Dry White Wine

Dry white wine is a substitute for Shaoxing wine, especially in Western cuisine.

People make dry white wine from green grapes to give it a crisp, refreshing flavor. It also has a slight acidity and sweetness. That can complement savory dishes, making it a good alternative to Shaoxing wine in many recipes.

Choosing a dry white wine with a high acidity level helps replicate Shaoxin’s flavor. Therefore, if you use a low-acidity wine, your dish taste can be flat or lacks the desired flavor.

Dry white wine

6. Stock

Stock generally does not contain any significant amount of alcohol. People make it by boiling meat or bone in water for an extended time.

If you are looking for a substitute with no alcohol content for Shaoxing wine, using stock isn’t a bad idea.

Stock can be the best match for your soups and stews. I also recommend adding a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice to mimic the acidity of Shaoxing wine.

Stock

7. Mijiu

Mijiu, also known as Chinese rice wine, is a popular alternative to Shaoxing wine in Chinese cuisine. People ferment glutinous rice with water and yeast, giving it a mild, sweet taste and low alcohol content.

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Mijiu often comes in two colors – a pale or reddish hue. It is a good choice for cooking meats and fish, as its flavor can mix well with these dishes.

Mijiu

8. Light Soy Sauce

You can try to use light soy sauce as a substitute for Shaoxing wine in some recipes, especially in China cuisine. It has a salty and slightly sweet flavor.

However, you can only alter light soy sauce with Shaoxing in small quantities because it can overpower the dish with its strong flavor.

I recommend using light soy sauce in stir-fried dishes. To make it taste more like Shaoxing wine, you can add a small amount of honey or sugar and some drops of lemon juice.

Light soy sauce

9. Fujian Cooking Wine

Fujian cooking wine also is a type of Chinese rice wine that originates from the Fujian province (China).

It has a milder flavor compared to Shaoxing wine, so you can use it when making dishes for those who prefer a less intense flavor.

If a recipe calls for stir-frying and requires cooking wine, Fujian cooking wine would be a suitable substitute for Shaoxing wine.

10. Rice Vinegar

If you run to a nearby supermarket and Shaoxing wine is out of stock, you can look for rice vinegar as a substitute.

However, rice vinegar can have a more acidic and sour flavor than Shaoxing wine. So to mimic the taste of Shaoxing wine, I recommend mixing rice vinegar with water and adding a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity.

Generally, lighter and less aged rice vinegar is better suited for cooking as they have a milder taste.

11. Champagne Vinegar

People ferment Champagne wine to make Champagne vinegar. Champagne vinegar has a light and delicate flavor with a slightly tangy taste, while Shaoxing wine has a rich, savory, and slightly sweet flavor.

It is a good alternative to Shaoxing wine in recipes that require a small amount of cooking wine.

12. Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is a dark, syrupy vinegar that originated in Italy. It is made from the concentrated juice of white grapes.

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Balsamic vinegar typically has a dark brown color with a shiny appearance. Compared with Shaoxing wine, its taste may be much more robust and sweeter.

Balsamic vinegar perfectly matches roasted meats, grilled vegetables, and salads.

Balsamic vinegar

13. White Wine Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar

White wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar are two other substitutes for Shaoxing wine. In comparison, the acidity level of Shaoxing wine is much lower than both white wine and apple cider vinegar.

The differences in acidity can affect the overall flavor and balance of the dish. Therefore, I suggest adding some sugar to get a better replica of Shaoxing wine.

Apple cider vinegar

14. Apple Juice

You are trying a new Chinese dish that requires only a spoonful of Shaoxing, and you don’t want to spend money on a new bottle.

Let’s give apple juice a try. It provides a slightly sweet and fruity flavor that suits certain dishes. To use apple juice as a substitute, mix your apple juice with some salt to add the necessary acidity.

Apple juice

15. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has a high acidic level. You can sometimes use it to substitute Shaoxing wine. It has a sour and tangy taste, which can give a new bright, and refreshing flavor to dishes.

However, since it is highly acidic, it is not a direct substitute for Shaoxing wine, and the flavor profile will differ.

You can try to adjust the flavor by combining lemon juice with some sugar and a small amount of salt to balance the acidity and add some depth of flavor.

Lemon juice

Final Thoughts

While Shaoxing wine has a unique flavor and aroma, several substitutes are available. Experimenting with different substitutes can result in delicious and unique dishes.

However, each substitute may slightly change your final achievement, so it’s best to choose the substitute for each recipe carefully.