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11 Perfect Substitutes For Rice Wine To Boost Your Taste Buds

Also known as mijiu, rice wine is a staple ingredient in Asian cuisine. Most households who enjoy cooking and eating Asian food (from Chinese to Japanese to Korean food) will probably have a bottle of Substitutes for rice wine somewhere in their pantry or kitchen cupboard.

In most Asian dishes, rice wine is as important to the recipe as soy sauce. 

Top Substitutes For Rice Wine

Unlike other wines, rice wine consists of fermented glutinous rice as opposed to fermented fruits. This process converts the sugars into alcohol from the yeast in the rice, which is what gives rice wine its characteristic sweet taste.

Rice wine is typically used to tenderize fish and meat and to add a boost of flavor to a dish. 

Quick Table: Rice Wine Substitutes

SubstitutesCalories (Per 100 Grams)
White Wine82
White Vinegar18
Pale Dry Sherry115
White Grape Juice60
Japanese Sake134
Shaoxing Wine134
Vegetable Stock7
Lemon Juice22
Balsamic Vinegar88

While it’s easy to find a bottle of rice wine in an Asian grocery store, you might struggle to find availability in your local grocery store. Whether you can’t find rice wine in a store or if you’ve just realized you don’t have a bottle in your cupboard to complete a recipe, we’ve got you covered. Here are the top substitutes for rice wine!


Not only does gin share the same clear color and consistency as rice wine, but it also works as an effective substitute for it. Gin shares a similar taste to white rice wine, which is why it can be easily substituted in a recipe that calls for white rice wine.

Plus, gin is readily available in virtually every grocery or liquor store and can also be used for drinking purposes – just make sure to buy an unflavored bottle of gin, otherwise it’ll alter the taste of the meal!

However, due to the higher alcohol percentage of gin compared to rice wine, you’ll have to be careful using gin in a recipe. It is recommended using ⅓ of the original rice wine requirement in a recipe with gin instead, and then adding more depending on the taste. 

Gin is a surprisingly versatile substitute for rice wine, and can be used to tenderize meat and seafood or in salad dressings. 

How To Substitute

With similar flavors, Gin comes as a good replacement for rice wine. With higher alcohol content to have when compared to rice wine, Gin is a recommended substitute and comes closest in flavoring.

White Wine

Just like gin, white wine is a good substitute for rice wine. While white wine is commonly used in Italian dishes, it can also be used in Asian cuisine such as in meat or seafood dishes, salad dressings, and sauces. 

Both white wine and rice wine share similar qualities, such as the same clear color, the same consistency, and a comparable flavor. Due to these similarities, you can generally use the same ratio of white wine to rice wine according to the recipe. 

However, as white wine can come in a variety of flavors, levels of sweetness, and alcohol strengths, you might have to adjust the recipe slightly.

We recommend opting for a dry white wine, because while it won’t match the sweetness of rice wine, you can adjust the sweetness by adding sugar or honey accordingly. As with gin, it’s best to use a small amount of white wine and keep testing the meal until it reaches the desired flavor. 

How To Substitute

White wine can be substituted for rice wine in many recipes, but it is important to taste the dish after the substitution. White wine has a milder flavor than rice wine, so you may need to adjust the amount of other ingredients in the recipe.

White Vinegar

If you’ve ever wondered whether you can substitute white vinegar for rice wine, you’ll be pleased to know that you can. However, despite the fact that white vinegar and rice wine share the same clear color and consistency, you can’t simply use the same ratios in a recipe. 

White vinegar isn’t sweet. Instead, due to its high acidity, white vinegar is very sour, which means it’s not the best substitute for rice wine in terms of flavor. Instead, you’ll have to adjust the sweetness of white vinegar with sugar, honey, or another sweetener to try and replicate the same flavor of rice wine. 

Due to the risk of making the white vinegar too sweet or not sweet enough, we recommend only using a small amount of white vinegar as a substitute for rice wine. For example, for every cup of rice wine, use half a cup (or even ¼ of a cup) of white vinegar, and adjust accordingly depending on your preferences. 

How To Substitute

It is a simple substitute that can be used in many recipes. To help enhance the taste of your favorite recipe, you can eliminate rice wine and can opt for white vinegar. Vinegar has a much milder flavor than rice wine and will not alter the taste of the dish.

Pale Dry Sherry

Interestingly, pale dry sherry is typically the most common substitute for rice wine. This is because pale dry sherry is made from water, wheat yeast, and glutinous rice – similarly to how rice wine is made – allowing for a very comparable flavor. If you buy pale dry sherry, you can substitute this for rice wine with the same ratio according to the recipe.

As pale dry sherry is slightly less sweet than rice wine, though, we recommend adding a maximum of half a tablespoon of sugar for every tablespoon of pale dry sherry. 

However, make sure to buy pale dry sherry, as regular sherry is far too sweet to substitute for rice wine. We all know that it’s easier to add sweetness than to take sweetness away, so if you only have sweet sherry in your pantry, then use it sparingly as a rice wine substitute.

Adjust the amount accordingly as you continue to taste the dish, but don’t expect it to match the exact flavor of rice wine in comparison to pale dry sherry. 

How To Substitute

Pale Dry Sherry is one of the most recommended substitutes for rice wine to know. The amber colored wine comes closest in flavor and is the most popular variety to be swapped in similar amounts.

White Grape Juice

If you’re not a drinker, white grape juice is a good non-alcoholic substitute for rice wine. Grape juice is satisfyingly acidic enough to sufficiently tenderize meat in a similar way to rice wine, while sweet enough to mimic the sugar levels of rice wine.

Grape juice is a good enough substitute, but for the best comparison, we recommend using white grape juice. 

White grape juice is a great substitute for rice wine in a variety of dishes, including meat, seafood, sauces, dressings, stews, and vegetable dishes. 

How To Substitute

The taste of white grape juice can range from a sweet, fruity flavor to a tart, refreshing taste. White grape juice is a great option for anyone who wants to substitute it with rice wine. With enhanced taste, there are popular varieties to add with white grape recipes.

RELATED: 17 Easy Substitutes For White Wine In Risotto

Japanese Sake 

While the production of Japanese sake is more similar to how beer is brewed, Japanese sake is commonly known as the Japanese version of rice wine. It actually has a very different flavor to traditional Chinese rice wine, but depending on the chef’s preference, sake can be used as a substitute for rice wine. 

As Japanese sake can come in a variety of flavors – including dry, light, and dark – it’s wise to use sake sparingly as a substitute for rice wine. Make sure to use a small amount of sake at a time rather than use the same ratio according to the recipe, as this will give you enough control to alter the flavor to your liking. 

How To Substitute

Japanese sake is often used in Asian cooking. It can be substituted for rice wine in many recipes. One method to substitute sake for rice wine is to add a small amount of sugar. Sake has a higher alcohol content than rice wine, so it is important to adjust the proportions.

Shaoxing Wine

Shaoxing wine is a traditional Chinese drink also known as “yellow wine”. As shaoxing wine is made similarly to rice wine (both consisting of fermented wheat yeast, water, and glutinous rice), it can be used as an adequate substitute.

Just be cautious that the reddish-amber coloring of shaoxing will alter the color of the recipe, which can make it look slightly different compared to if you were to use rice wine. 

However, if you’re struggling to find rice wine in a grocery store, odds are you probably won’t find shaoxing wine, either. Plus, if you don’t live in an Asian household, you’re unlikely to have a bottle of shaoxing wine lying around, either. 

How To Substitute

The Shaoxing wine has a strong, full-bodied taste and is used in many Chinese dishes as a substitute for rice wine. In order to substitute Shaoxing wine, use equal parts of Shaoxing wine and water, along with a quarter of a teaspoon of sugar.

Vegetable Stock 

If you’re struggling to find a bottle of gin, white wine, grape juice, or any other substitute already on this list in your kitchen cupboard, then look no further.

Virtually every household has vegetable stock lying around somewhere, and while it might not be the most conventional substitute for rice wine, it’s a substitute nonetheless. 

Vegetable stock is a brilliant substitute for rice wine in an Asian stew or vegetable dish because of the natural sweetness of the vegetables used in the stock.

It is recommended using more vegetable stock than what the recipe calls for rice wine to try and mimic the flavor. If you think the dish is still lacking the distinctive sweetness or pang of rice wine, you can always add a sweetener like sugar, honey, or even a splash of lemon juice. 

How To Substitute

One easy way to make a substitute for rice wine is to use vegetable stock. Vegetable stock has a lighter taste and doesn’t have the same kind of alcohol that rice wine does. To substitute vegetable stock for rice wine, use two cups of vegetable stock and two tablespoons of sugar for each cup of rice wine.

Lemon Juice 

Speaking of lemon juice, lemon juice provides an adequate amount of acidity that can substitute for rice wine in a variety of dishes. As lemons are so readily available in grocery stores, this is probably the most accessible substitute for rice wine. 

However, you will have to adjust the taste of lemon juice, as it is distinctly tart in comparison to rice wine. We recommend using sweeteners like sugar, honey, or agave.

Plus, make sure to only use half a cup of lemon juice (with sweeteners) for every cup of rice wine. We also recommend adding water to the lemon and sweetener mix to make up for the lack of liquid. 

Lemon juice works best as a substitute for rice wine in light dishes such as marinades, sauces, and salad dressings. 

How To Substitute

The recipe calls for rice wine, but there is no need to buy it if you can substitute it with lemon juice. To make the substitution, use 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for every cup of rice wine. You can also use orange juice if you don’t have lemons.

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is a sweet, dark, and syrupy vinegar made from a cooked grape must. Its flavor is concentrated and rich with notes of caramel, toffee, and vanilla.

The longer the vinegar is aged, the darker it becomes and the more complex the flavor becomes. It is also used in recipes for salads, vegetables, and meats.

It is a popular condiment that is often used as a dressing or as a dipping sauce for meat and vegetables.

How To Substitute

Balsamic vinegar is a type of wine that is produced by aging vinegar to develop a rich, thick, sweet flavor. If you’re looking to substitute red wine for balsamic vinegar, you can add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to each glass of wine that you’re cooking with.


Mirin is a Japanese cooking sauce with a flavor of sweetened soy sauce.

Mirin is a type of sweet, savory cooking wine made from a grain called rice. It is usually mixed with sugar and used as a glaze for meat or fish. It is also used as a marinade for soups and stews.

Mirin is a rice wine that is often used in cooking and drinking in many different dishes. 

How To Substitute

Mirin is a sweet and savory Japanese cooking ingredient that is typically made with rice, sugar, and salt. It is often served as a condiment for rice and noodle dishes. This recipe substitutes Mirin with rice wine, which is similar in flavor and consistency.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Rice Wine The Same As Mirin?

Mirin is a rice wine commonly used in Japanese cooking, as can often be substituted for rice wine or even sake. While rice wine is not the same as mirin, there are several similarities between them, mostly notably the fermentation process. Mirin is made of fermented glutinous rice, which then creates a distinctive sweetness. Rice wine, likewise, is made of fermented glutinous rice. 

However, the sugar content of mirin is generally sweeter than rice wine, which is why it can only be used sparingly as a substitute. 

Can I Use White Vinegar Instead Of Rice Wine?

White vinegar is a useful substitute for rice wine due to its availability and similar consistency. However, white vinegar has far higher acidity levels than rice wine, which means you can use the same ratios according to a recipe.

White vinegar must be sweetened to match the sweetness of rice wine, which can be achieved by combining sugar, honey, or agave to the vinegar. We recommend using half a cup of sweetened white vinegar for every one cup of rice wine. 

Is Rice Wine And Sake The Same?

Sake is a type of rice wine, which is why both terms are used interchangeably and both liquids can substitute for one another.

Both sake and rice wine are made of fermented glutinous wine, with the process converting the natural complex carbohydrates into sugars to make the drinks distinctly sweet. 

However, if you’re looking to substitute sake for rice wine in a recipe, make sure to only use a small amount at a time to prevent altering the overall flavor of the dish. 

11 Perfect Substitutes For Rice Wine To Boost Your Taste Buds

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The top substitutes for rice wine that you can find in any grocery store or kitchen pantry.


  • Gin

  • White Wine

  • White Vinegar

  • Pale Dry Sherry

  • White Grape Juice

  • Japanese Sake

  • Shaoxing Wine

  • Vegetable Stock

  • Lemon Juice

  • Balsamic Vinegar

  • Mirin


  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio
Jess Smith