Does Shaoxing Wine Need to Be Refrigerated?

Does Shaoxing Wine Need to Be Refrigerated?

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Does Shaoxing Wine Need to Be Refrigerated?

Shaoxing wine is a rice wine made from distilled fermented rice and water. This legendary liquor has a history of more than 1,000 years, during which emperors, scholars, and statesmen have drunk it.

It has a common belief that it can “return one to the prime of youth.” In China, they consider Shaoxing wine an icon of culture.

No! There is no need to refrigerate Shaoxing wine once opened because it’s not a purely an alcoholic beverage. You can enjoy Shaoxing wine with food or after a meal when you want to drink something non-alcoholic. It has few ingredients, water, and rice with distillation being its most important process.

Shaoxing wines originate from the Chinese city of Zhangzhou and are usually light yellow.

The rice may be white rice or glutinous rice. You don’t need to refrigerate the wine because it does not contain alcohol.

The Chinese use Shaoxing wine in traditional Chinese cooking to make sauces, or when making pickles, as a base for a broth, or as a general ingredient. As an ingredient in cooking, it helps add flavor to the food.

Shaoxing wine is one of the essential ingredients in cooking Chinese cuisine and one of the oldest non alcoholic beverages.

Generally, there are three main types of Shaoxing wine; Green, white, and clear. Green Shaoxing wine comes from jujubes (a type of fruit) and fermented grapes. White Shaoxing wine comes from rice and contains various flavors.

Clear Shaoxing wine comes from water and yeast. Every type has distinct characteristics that make them unique.

Can I leave out Shaoxing wine? – 7 Substitutes and Their Features

Shaoxing wine is a popular ingredient in Chinese cooking. However, it also has strong alcoholic content depending on the type, which may make some people abstain from using it in their cooking.

If you are one of those people, don’t worry. There are plenty of substitutes for Shaoxing wine that can do the trick. And they all have their unique characteristics to add different layers of flavor to your dishes.

Here are seven substitutes and their features:

1Rice wineRice wine is another popular ingredient commonly used as Shaoxing wine’s substitute. It’s distilled from glutinous rice, so it has a mellow taste without the spicy taste of Shaoxing wine.
2BeerBeer is also a common substitute for Shaoxing wine. It’s milder than wine, sweeter than Shaoxing wine, and has the same aroma and flavor as Shaoxing wine.

However, beer tastes bitter, so you may want to mix it with other ingredients to soften it. Even at low temperatures, they call softening alcohols “wood cong.”

You can prepare this by heating your beer with some sugar or fruit-like bananas or pineapple.

3Light soy sauceLight soy sauce comes from the extraction of soybeans with sugar. It has the same flavor and aroma as Shaoxing wine but lacks its alcoholic content.  

You can use it to replace Shaoxing wine in many Chinese dishes that call for wine, such as stir-fried vegetables or braised meat.

4MirinMirin is a type of rice vinegar. It tastes sweet and sour but without the pungent smell of vinegar.  

You can use it to make many kinds of sauces, marinate meat, soups, and more. Mirin is especially popular in Japanese cooking.

5Plum saucePlum sauce comes from distilled plums, sugar, and spices. It has a sweet taste with a mild aroma, making it perfect for vegetarian dishes or meat cooked with light soy sauce.
6Sherry/ wine vinegarThis is another type of vinegar. It has a faintly sour taste with a bitter aftertaste that adds extra flavor to meat and fish.  

You can use it to marinate pork and beef in a low-temperature oven, which is acidic enough to turn the meat into a delicious tenderloin.

7Sweetened condensed milkSweetened condensed milk is similar to Shaoxing wine but sweet and dry instead of sweet and spicy.  

It gives your dishes extra sweetness and aroma but doesn’t increase the viscosity of your dish.

Is Shaoxing Wine the Same As Rice Vinegar?

No! Rice vinegar comprises fermented rice/ rice wine is not at all the same. It is a wine made in Shaoxing and has nothing to do with vinegar. Rice vinegar is a light, clear vinegar with no flavor or color.

It’s tasteless, but you can combine it with other vinegar and fruits to create a salad dressing or a marinade. It will also dissolve in water better than any other kind of vinegar.

By contrast, Shaoxing wine has an amber color and a nutty aroma. It’s pretty aromatic and has a sweet, mellow taste. Shaoxing wine makes marinades, sauces, and pickles. It will give food a slightly sweet taste. It’s also good for drinking warm or cooled down.

Does Shaoxing Wine Need to Be Refrigerated?

Fermented rice, water, and salt are the main ingredients of rice vinegar. Most people prefer the rice vinegar that’s made from brown rice because it tastes better than the one from white rice.

To make rice vinegar, you will need to start by making rice wine. You must polish and soak the rice for one or two days to ensure it’s nice and clean. Next, you must clean, boil and ferment the rice until it becomes a dry wine.

After that, you will have to distill the wine into steam during winter until all the water evaporates. They will then have to condense the steam into liquid, becoming vinegar.

There are several kinds of Shaoxing wine. These include the “golden” Shaoxing wine, the “chinning” Shaoxing wine, the non-sweet Shaoxing wine, and so on. All these wines have different tastes and fragrances and come from different ingredients.

Is Shaoxing Wine the Same as Sake?

Yes! Shao Xing wine is essentially Chinese sake, although some differences are noticeable when drinking. From the Chinese perspective, Shaoxing wine is more of a cooking wine that pairs beautifully with food.

On the other hand, they use sake more like a Western beverage that one can use for toasts and celebrations, although there is a difference between sakes from different regions and grades.

In Shaoxing, the rice used to make wine is similar to sake rice, but because the fermentation process for making wine takes about ten days, some residual sugars would remain in the wine, which does not occur in sake.

The Japanese sake which is older than 20 years is very good in taste, which one can compare to the Shaoxing wine of 50 years or more.

Because the fermentation process for making sake is shorter, it has less residual sugars and a high concentration of alcohol (about 18% ABV), but sake does not have the same effect when cooked as wine does.

It’s worth noting that Shaoxing wines are traditionally drunk during meals, unlike sakes which are often used for toasts or celebrations.

How Is Shaoxing Wine Made Compared to Sake?

They make Shaoxing wine from a fermentation process that utilizes the chrysanthemum of Shaoxing rice. This beverage has been around for many years and is still a delicacy in Asia today, mainly because of its popularity in food and drink. Among many other things, it helps reduce muscle fatigue.

Sake comes from a different fermentation process that utilizes special koji molds and rice malt syrup to activate the biological activity within the rice grains. This process creates an alcohol concentration of 15%.

Because one can enjoy Shaoxing with food and sake can not, they are two different beverages. Most people do not like the taste of sake on its own, which is usually only enjoyed with food.

Many companies use rice to create sake because it has the perfect consistency for this beverage. On the other hand, one can buy Shao Hsing wine by itself or pair it with various types of Asian food.

There are many different types of Shaoxing wine, and over 400 million bottles get consumed worldwide every year. Many people enjoy this beverage for its sharp taste and light color.

For example, some people drink Shaoxing wine with the dish called “Xiao Long Bao,” which is a popular Chinese food.

The unique flavor of Shaoxing wine has made it a favorite among many Asians around the world, especially in Japan and China. It has a lower alcohol content and more than just one purpose.

While sake is commonly consumed as a drink, Shaoxing wine is mostly for cooking various Chinese food, making it an important part of the process.

What Is The Difference Between Sake And Chinese Rice Wine?

 SakeChinese Red Wine
BrewingBrewing sake is such a complex process that it requires a team of brewers.

They steam the grain and mix it with water, yeast, and Koji mold.

After fermentation, they filter it to remove solids and increase the clarity.
You can make Chinese rice wine by simply soaking rice in water for several days until it starts fermenting on its own.

The liquid seeped through the rice grains will drain off, but not before adding other ingredients like herbs or spices for flavor.

UsageBrewed sake is for drinking and eating, whereas Chinese rice wine is primarily for cooking and preserving vegetables, meat, fish, and fruit.  

The flavor of wine complements the flavor of food.

Chinese rice wine is not nearly as popular as sake in Japan, and there are fewer varieties.


However, it’s essential to note that Chinese rice wine varies greatly depending on where they brewed it.

In China’s Sichuan province, the different brewing methods and ingredients create a distinct wine that pairs well with various types of food.

TasteBoth sake and Chinese rice wine are popular for their taste because of the ingredients used and fermentation techniques.  

They refine sake to remove impurities, then age it in barrels. The longer the sake ages, the more intense it will become in flavor.

If left for too long, it ferments and becomes vinegar. The vinegar-like taste is why many do not like to drink sake with sushi or sashimi after a meal.

Chinese rice wine is for immediate consumption. It is much less refined and can be strong in taste and alcohol content.

Chinese rice wine will ferment as it sits in storage barrels.

This process takes months or even years, so to speed up the process, winemakers will add yeast to help it ferment, which also adds flavor to the drink.

As Chinese rice wine ferments, it turns into a kind of vinegar, only without many of the good properties of vinegar.  

It is not as tasty or refreshing as sake, but it is entirely drinkable, and you can find it in almost every home in China.

Are Mirin and Sake the Same?

No! Mirin and sake are not the same. The key difference between the two is that mirin has a low alcohol content and sake has an even lower alcohol content. For this reason, mirin is often a cheaper alternative to sake.

Additionally, many people like to use mirin in cooking because it adds sweetness and flavor instead of changing the taste of what you are cooking.

Does Shaoxing Wine Need to Be Refrigerated?

There was a time when sake was very expensive, and mirin was cheap. If you look at the labels of different brands in Japan, you will see the words “also known as mirin” next to the other brands’ names.

The main reason is that mirin comes from rice wine and yeast (just like sake). There are many kinds of rice in Japan, and only some produce a good amount of alcohol. It’s a question of trial and error to find the proper rice that produces the best type of sake.

The problem with mirin is that it does not have a large enough alcohol content to come from sake. I would say that most mirin in Japan is about half as strong as sake.

Here in America, you can pay anywhere from 30 cents to $1 per bottle for imported Japanese mirin, but some small wine shops in Japan will sell you premium-grade Japanese mirin for $2 or less.

When you place mirin in a container, the alcohol evaporates over time. When the alcohol evaporates, some other stuff disappears with it. The key ingredient in mirin is not just sugar and yeast (like sake); it also has different things.

Leveling off the alcohol level in sake is much more difficult than in mirin because of all the other ingredients that affect the alcohol content of sake.

It’s highly suitable to try making yakitori sauce with mirin and sake. Use the same amount of mirin and sake, but I guarantee you will taste a big difference between the two.

I also like to make a hot pot dipping sauce with mirin and sake. Just use one part of mirin for every four parts of hot water and mix in some red pepper flakes (if you prefer it spicy).

What Is The Difference Between Sake, Cooking Sake, And Mirin?

 Pure SakeCooking sakeMirin
MakingRice & WaterCloud seedingPure rice wine diluted with water
FlavoringNo flavsFive main flavors: sweet, acidic, salty, bitter, and umami.Sweet
AdditivesNo additivesChemical compound
ColoringsNo coloringsBeige, Green, YellowLight-dark gold
UsageDrinkingFor frying and sauteingUsed in glazing for boiled or grilled fish and sweet and salt-based sauces

Shaoxing Wine: Tips on How one can Store and Serve It

Shaoxing wine is a type of white wine made from rice and glutinous rice. It has been a crucial part of Chinese culture for centuries. People worldwide are becoming fascinated with this ancient drink and its unique process.

There are many myths about how to store, serve, and even drink Shaoxing wine correctly, but here, you will get some tips for doing all three at home.

You don’t have to store Shaoxing wine in a refrigerator. The best way to store this wine is in an unopened, sealed bottle away from sunlight and any heat source. You should keep the temperature between 32- and 65-degrees F (0 C – 18 C).

To properly store Shaoxing wine at home, keep it in a corner cabinet or dark closet away from direct sunlight.

Shaoxing wine is best stored in a sealed bottle if it has never opened. This is because the seal keeps air out and prevents oxidation inside the bottle. If you open the bottle, close it tightly to avoid air entering the wine.

Regarding how long Shaoxing wine will last after opening it, some factors might affect this process. The first factor is the quality of the wine. If you have a great bottle of Shaoxing wine, it might last longer than one given to you by a friend.

One more factor to consider is where you stored your bottle. If you have Shaoxing wine kept in direct sunlight, it will age faster than wine stored in a dark place.

Finally, when it comes to serving and drinking Shaoxing wine, there are some rules you should also follow. One of the most vital rules is that you need to know how to heat your wine appropriately.

This is because wine tastes best at room temperature. If your wine is too hot, it will not taste that great. If it’s too cold, your glass might even break!

Does Shaoxing Wine Need to Be Refrigerated?

The best way to heat Shaoxing wine is through a small cup of hot water. This way, the room temperature will be more comfortable, and the hot water will gradually heat the glass.


You can consider Shaoxing wine as a “China wine” or “Sino-Chinese wine.” It’s a sweet and somewhat dry Chinese white wine made from rice.

It has been a crucial part of Chinese culture for centuries. People worldwide are becoming fascinated with this ancient drink and its unique process.


Hi! I' am Tom. I was a manager in one of the biggest stores for over 10 Years, am also an SEO by night. I don't like to call myself a blogger; they are very analytical, do email marketing, and know all SEO stuff. I faced many questions from customers about different products, and there was hardly any help on the internet. After learning all the things about these products as a manager the hard way, I decided to start a blog and help other people.

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