What Is Shaoxing Wine Used For?

Chinese foods are some of the most delicious meals that many people enjoy. One thing that makes them quite unique is the inclusion of a secret ingredient known as Shaoxing wine. It gives most Chinese dishes an authentic flavor. The Chinese use it for different purposes. By the end of this post, you will learn everything regarding Shaoxing wine, including what it is used for. Read on!


What is Shaoxing wine?

This refers to a traditional wine that is famous in China. The Chinese refer to it as yellow wine.

 It is not only popular in mainland China but also in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Shaoxing wine is a secret ingredient that the Chinese use to enhance the flavor of food.

This liquid is ambered, containing between 14 and 20% alcohol depending on the brand. It forms part of ancient cooking traditions in China. Besides being a cooking wine, it is also a beverage. Shaoxing wine is not only available in Asian markets but also on online platforms such as Amazon.


Kinds of Shaoxing wine

The market offers different types of Shaoxing wine that you can use. Some of them are discussed below.


This is a premier red wine that is dry. It has 5 grams of sugar and 14.5% ethanol.


You may also come across this name as you shop for Shaoxing wine. During the brewing process, more rice is used to make this type of Shaoxing wine. Its name means add rice. It contains between 5 to 30 grams of sugar per liter and is an example of semi-dry wine. This type of Shaoxing wine has around 16% ethanol.


This is an alternative name to Shaoxing wine. The name means carved flower wine. The name describes the flower design, carved into jars once used to store it. This is commonly used as one of the ingredients in meat dishes.


This is what is referred to as daughter red. It is the type of Shaoxing wine that is meant for daughters. The Chinese believe that when someone gives birth to a daughter, the rice wine should be buried in the ground and only used when they get married. According to Chinese culture, red is a lucky color, and it adds significance to the celebratory wine.


History of Shaoxing wine

Shaoxing wine gets its name from where it originated from. This came from the eastern province of Zhejiang in a region known as Shaoxing. It is famous for the production of rice wine. Shaoxing wine has been used for centuries since it dates back to 2000 years ago. It is among the oldest types of rice wines in China.

In China, the production of rice wine began between 770 and 221 BC. It was mostly used during ceremonies. The earliest historical record of this wine dates back to the Autumn and Spring period 700-476 BC and the Warring States Period (475- 221 BC).

Since Shaoxing wine was commonly used in Chinese banquets during the Qing Dynasty, councilors spread the popularity of drinking wine to different parts of the country. A brand of this wine known as Nu Er Hong became quite popular in Hong Kong in 1980. Since the introduction of Shaoxing wine, large quantities have always been stored in clay jars for an extended duration.

Aged Shaoxing wine has always been consumed as a beverage after being warmed. The Eastern Han Dynasty marked the turning point in the wine’s quality. One of the raw materials in Shaoxing wine is the water of Jianhu Lake. The water became popular during the Eastern Han dynasty when different projects were established to develop the economy.


What is Shaoxing wine made of

Yellow wine is among the most popular brewed wines across the globe. Shaoxing wine is made up of wheat-based yeast, water, and glutinous rice. The ingredients are fermented to make Shaoxing wine. The traditional method of making it involves stirring rice mash using a wooden hoe for a couple of hours so that the yeast can break down the sugars.

A winemaker can assess whether the wine has fermented by listening for a bubbling sound. The fermented glutinous rice is usually stronger and sweet compared to mijiu rice wine which is clear rice cooking wine. The brewing techniques of yellow wine are regarded as the model that the wine brewing industry uses in Asia.

Since one of the ingredients in Shaoxing wine is wheat, it is not suitable for gluten intolerant people. If you are one of them, you can still make delicious meals with Shaoxing wine alternatives. This wine can also be made with millet or sorghum. After making it, some are used domestically while some are sold in different countries.

Shaoxing wine is packaged in bottled containers. You will come across different brands of this wine. Aged Shaoxing wine is often referred to, based on the year it was brewed. This is mostly sold in ceramic jugs. When Shaoxing wine is produced as an ingredient, it comes with salt. This enables manufacturers to dodge alcohol taxes.



What is Shaoxing wine good for?

Shaoxing wine is not only a beverage but also a useful ingredient in Chinese cuisine. Many people use it for cooking due to its sweet and complex flavor. It goes well with different Chinese recipes that call for rice wine.

This wine is a crucial seasoning that can add depth to things such as broths and sauces. For instance, Huang Jui is a key ingredient in braised pork belly. When using Shaoxing wine in cooking, you can easily change the meal’s profile with only a tablespoon of this wine.

How to drink Shaoxing wine

Apart from cooking, this wine is also consumed as a beverage. Most people drink Shaoxing wine from rice bowls before meals. This is a common serving style at some of the historic restaurants in China. Apart from taking it at the beginning of a meal, you can also drink Shaoxing wine with snacks such as peanuts.

You should drink Shaoxing wine after warming. This amber-colored beverage is slightly sweet and slightly spicy. Some people liken the taste of this wine to that of caramel, while some reveal that it is nutty. As you consume this wine, you should also beware of its alcohol content.

How long does Shaoxing wine last?

Once you are done with using Shaoxing wine, you should store it properly for future use. If, for instance, you store Shaoxing wine in a dark and cool place, it can last for up to 6 months. Ensure that you properly seal it before storing it. You can also prolong the life of Shaoxing wine by refrigerating it after use.

Shaoxing wine can last for a long time due to its concentration and thickness. The alcohol levels in the wine also help it remain fresh for months. As you store Shaoxing wine, you should avoid things such as humidity, direct sunlight, and heat since this can negatively affect the quality of Shaoxing wine.

How to make Shaoxing wine at home

Start by gathering all the crucial components you need to make this wine. They include wheat-based yeast, water, and glutinous rice. Measure the glutinous rice, then rinse it in a bowl until the water is no longer murky. Soak the glutinous rice in hot water for at least an hour, then remove it from the water using a strainer. You should then boil water to steam the rice for at least 25 minutes.

Once this is done, allow the rice to cool down before fermentation. After this, combine the wheat-based yeast with the glutinous ice. You can use a spoon to combine them, then transfer the rice into an airtight container. Store the wine in a warm place for a couple of days.

If you notice liquid forming at the bottom of the container, it means that the wine is doing great. You can let it ferment for up to a month before using it. After this, you can strain the rice mixture using a cheesecloth, then use it as you please.


How to use Shaoxing wine

Shaoxing wine is quite versatile since it can be used to enhance the flavor of different dishes. Some of them include the following.

Drunken chicken

This traditional Chinese dish involves making chicken with an alcoholic drink like Shaoxing wine. To make it, you first have to cook the chicken and then marinate it in the wine overnight in a fridge.

Drunken shrimp

You can also make shrimp more delicious by immersing it in some Shaoxing wine. Some Chinese cook shrimp in boiling water and then marinate them with this alcoholic beverage.

Drunken Tofu

Since Tofu has a spongy texture, it can easily absorb different flavors. Making drunken Tofu using Shaoxing wine is a common practice in Asia.


If you love cooking, you should consider using Shaoxing wine in preparing some dishes. The Chinese commonly use this to bring out balanced flavors in foods. You can also consume it warm as a beverage. Enjoy!

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