Cooking with alcohol has a long history in various cuisines like French, Chinese, Japanese, and many more. Chefs and food experts use alcohol to enhance the flavor and aroma of a dish.
Rice wine’s unique and exciting flavors can definitely transform the quality of a dish. But what if it’s not available to you? Here are some alternatives you can consider.
- Dry Sherry
- White Wine
- Apple Juice
- White Grape Juice
- Lemon (or Lime) Juice
- White Vinegar
- Rice Vinegar
- Balsamic Vinegar
If you are still unable to find the alternatives, read on to find out about the full comprehensive list of substitutes you can use for rice wine.
15 Best Substitute For Rice Wine
One of the alcohols with rich culinary use and history is rice wine. It is produced by fermenting rice starch into sugars, which makes it taste sweet and a little acidic.
Lucky for you, there are so many alternatives to rice wine. This article enumerates the substitutes you might have in your pantry, including when and how to use them.
Dry sherry is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting grapes and then fortifying them with brandy. The extra fortification of the sherry imparts unique flavors into it while increasing the alcohol content.
Generally, dry sherry has a nutty flavor with a tinge of saltiness and sweetness blended into it.
This is one of the most recommended substitutes to rice wine because its taste is close to rice wine, but not as sweet. So, if your dish needs extra sweetness, you can add a spoonful of sugar for every tablespoon of dry sherry.
You need not worry about the volume because dry sherry is relatively mild. Adding as much as the rice wine will not harm the taste of your dish.
Dry sherry is best used as a rice wine alternative to sauces and marinades.
This beverage has a characteristic pale yellow to yellow gold appearance because it is prepared by fermenting the non-colored pulp of the grapefruit.
White wine is regarded as one of the best substitutes for rice wine. One of the main reasons is its rich fruity flavors that are close to the profile of rice wine.
Like the rice wine, the white wine has balanced acidic and sweet flavors. But do not expect it to contribute so much to the sweetness department because it only contains 1% sugar.
Secondly, it also has an alcohol content less than rice wine. Hence, you can add the same amount as the rice wine in your recipe without worrying about the bitter taste.
Lastly, white wine is a good alternative because of its complex aromatic profile that makes the dish more appetizing.
White wine is best used as a rice wine alternative in dishes with meat and seafood as main ingredients.
If you love freaky Fridays, then you are definitely familiar with gin. This alcoholic beverage is originally a medicinal tonic until it became a popular alcoholic drink.
Surprisingly, gin makes a good alternative to rice wine because of its flavor profile, appearance, and even alcoholic content.
The gin adds a citrusy flavor to a dish. You can also expect more sweetness from the alcohol than rice wine.
Moreover, gin can also add some bitterness to your dish, so be careful. But if you want to make your gin taste a lot like rice wine, you can always add some spices.
As for the alcohol content, gin has 40% alcohol content, which is perfect for tenderizing meat and seafood. Hence, gin makes a good alternative to rice wine in meat and seafood dishes.
Lastly, since gin and rice wine have similar colors, you need not worry about the color change of the dish. Depending on your preference, you can add the same volumes of gin as rice wine.
Apple juice is one of the most widely used non-alcoholic alternatives to a spectrum of wines used in cooking. And these include red wine, white wine, and rice wine.
Apple juice has a good balance of acidic and sweet flavors that enrich the overall taste of any dish. But take note that there is quite a noticeable difference between the flavor profiles of rice wine and apple juice.
Flavor-wise, you might need to add a little bit of vinegar to the juice to achieve the wine’s acidity. You must also expect some fruitiness in it.
On another note, apple juice is a good replacement in marinades, dressing, and stir-fry recipes. Depending on your preference, you can use the same volume of apple juice as rice wine.
White Grape Juice
White grapefruit juice is another non-alcoholic beverage that makes a good substitute for rice wine. Like rice wine, the juice has a good balance of sweetness and sourness into it.
But if your dish requires a little more tartness, you can add either rice or vinegar to achieve the acidity of rice wine.
Moreover, white grape juice can also improve the texture and mouthfeel of any dish. It can tenderize any meat, be it beef, pork, chicken, or fish. Not only that, but the juice can also help in enriching the flavors of vegetables in your dish.
Ideally, white grapefruit juice is a well-recommended substitute to stir-fried recipes, salad dressings, marinades, and stews.
Lemon (or Lime) Juice
If your options are short, check your fridge for some lemons or limes. Their juice can also serve as an alternative to rice wine.
Lemon juice (or lime juice) can give your dish tart and acidic flavors like rice wine. However, it does not have any sweetness in it. So, better that you add some sugar or honey to your dish to balance the lemon’s sourness.
It’s best recommended to use only one-half cup of lemon juice for every cup of rice wine or even less. Make sure to taste every addition of the juice to avoid too much tartness.
If your dish is looking for some tartness and acidity, white vinegar can be a quick fix in the absence of rice wine.
However, keep in mind that white vinegar has no sweetness to impart to your dish, unlike rice wine. So, better if you can use some sweeteners like sugar or honey to cut through its sharp acidity.
Because of this, it is highly recommended to only use half (or less) of the required volume of rice wine if using white vinegar in its place.
White vinegar is a good alternative to dishes like soup, stew, and marinades.
Rice vinegar is a close relative (but not too close) of rice wine. It is very ubiquitous in Asian cuisines, especially in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisines. This vinegar is produced by fermenting the rice using acid-producing bacteria.
Rice vinegar is among the mildest kinds of vinegar you can buy in the market. It is often considered as the middle ground between rice wine and white vinegar. It has savory, sweet, and mild acidic flavors that can complement any recipe.
In lieu of rice wine, a dash of rice vinegar works well with salads, soups, stews, sauces, dressings, and marinades.
Balsamic vinegar is a special type of vinegar that is produced from aged grapes. This gives it a complex and rich blend of flavors.
Like rice wine, balsamic vinegar has a well-balanced sweetness and acidity in it. It can also add deep umami flavor into your dish without needing to add salt, sugar, and spices.
Balsamic vinegar is best used in salad dressings and marinades. Although, unlike rice wine, balsamic vinegar may not be as good as a deodorizer and meat tenderizer.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Like white vinegar, apple cider vinegar has more acetic acid than a rice wine. This gives it very acidic, tarty, and sour flavors.
In the absence of rice wine, apple cider vinegar can be a workable alternative. This is best recommended if the recipe asks for more acidity than sweetness. The cider also gives the dish a crisper and cleaner taste in the mouth.
Be wary of using cider vinegar. Add little amounts and keep tasting the dish to avoid too much tartness. You can also mix it with some sweeteners like sugar, honey, or syrups.
Popular for its dandy taste, champagne vinegar also makes for a great substitute for rice wine. It gives your dish mild acidity, sweetness, and lush flavors.
Due to the mildness of champagne vinegar, you can add it to a dish in the same volume as the rice wine in your recipe. But make sure to taste the dish every time so as to prevent the champagne vinegar from overpowering other flavors in your recipe.
In the absence of rice wine, you can always try traditional alternatives like vegetable stock. This is usually prepared by boiling together onions, carrots, celery stalks, garlic, herbs, and other spices.
The great thing about vegetable stock is that you can prepare it depending on your preferences. You can make it sweeter or mildly tarty.
Like rice wine, vegetable stock imparts rich and deeper flavors into the dish. But take note that there is a major difference in the flavor profiles of the rice wine and vegetable stock.
It is recommended to add vegetable stock at twice the volume of the required rice wine.
True enough, some find vegetable stock quite lacking in the flavor department. As a solution to this dilemma, you can always go back to another kitchen staple – chicken stock.
Chicken stock is often prepared by bringing chicken bones (or meat) and some vegetables like celery, onion, garlic, carrot into a gentle boil. You can also add egg white, salt, and other spices to deepen the flavor of the stock.
Compared to vegetable stock, chicken stock tastes sweeter and richer, quite similar to rice wine’s flavor profile. However, do not expect any acidity from the chicken stock because it has none to very little tart flavors. So if your recipe asks for some acidity, you can add wine, vinegar, or fruit juice.
Ideally, chicken stock is a very good replacement for rice wine in soups and stews.
“Rice is born in water and must die in wine.”
Japanese sake is synonymously referred to as rice wine. But they have differences in flavor and texture. So, in absence of your regular rice wine ingredient, you can always pick up Japanese sake as a good alternative.
Japanese sake, like rice wine, has a slightly sweet and tarty flavor. This gives the dish a crisp and smooth finish. You can use the sake in marinades and sauces in the same volumes as rice wine.