Does Rice Wine Need to Be Refrigerated? 5 Surprising Facts


Does Rice Wine Need to Be Refrigerated
“Shoukoushu” is a Chinese liquor and appetizer for drinking.

If you are a fan of Asian cuisine, you might have come across rice wine, a type of alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. Rice wine is a common ingredient in many dishes, such as stir-fries, soups, marinades, and sauces. It adds flavor and aroma to the food and can also tenderize meat or deglaze pans. But how do you store rice wine after opening it? Does rice wine need to be refrigerated? In this article, we will reveal 5 surprising facts about rice wine that you may not know.

Rice wine is different from rice vinegar

You may think that rice wine and rice vinegar are the same thing, but they are actually very different. Rice wine is an alcoholic beverage that is produced by fermenting rice starch with yeast, while rice vinegar is a condiment that is made by further fermenting rice wine with acetic acid. Rice wine has a sweet and mild flavor, while rice vinegar has a sour and acidic flavor. You should not use them interchangeably in recipes, as they will change the taste and texture of the dish significantly.

Rice wine can last for a long time

One of the advantages of rice wine is that it has a long shelf life. Depending on the type and quality of the rice wine, it can last for several years if stored properly. However, once you open the bottle, the rice wine will start to lose its flavor and aroma over time due to oxidation. To keep the quality of the rice wine, you should store it in a cool dark place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. You can also check the expiration date on the label or look for signs of spoilage such as cloudiness, sedimentation, or sour smell.

Rice wine does not require refrigeration

Unlike some other types of wine, such as white wine or sparkling wine, rice wine does not require refrigeration after opening. In fact, some people prefer to drink rice wine at room temperature or even slightly warm, as this brings out the flavor and aroma of the rice wine. However, if you want to keep your rice wine for longer than a few months, you can store it in the refrigerator to slow down the oxidation process. Just make sure that the bottle is tightly sealed and that you let the rice wine come to room temperature before using it in cooking or drinking.

Rice wine can replace other types of wine

If you don’t have access to rice wine or you run out of it, you can use other types of wine as a replacement in your recipes. The best alternatives for rice wine in cooking are dry sherry, dry white wine, or apple cider vinegar mixed with water and sugar. These substitutes have similar flavors and acidity levels as rice wine, and they can enhance your dishes. However, they may not have the same sweetness or fragrance as rice wine, so you may need to adjust the amount of sugar or other seasonings in your recipe accordingly.

Rice wine has various varieties and names

Rice wine is not a single product, but rather a category of diverse beverages that vary in color, flavor, alcohol content, and production methods. Some of the most popular varieties of rice wine include:

  • Shaoxing wine: This is a type of Chinese rice wine that is named after the city of Shaoxing in Zhejiang province. It is made from glutinous rice and wheat yeast, and it has a dark amber color and a rich and nutty flavor. It is often used in Chinese cooking as a marinade or a sauce ingredient.
  • Sake: This is a type of Japanese rice wine that is made from polished rice and koji mold. It has a clear or pale yellow color and a delicate and fruity flavor. It can be served hot or cold as a drink or used in Japanese cooking as a seasoning or a soup base.
  • Makgeolli: This is a type of Korean rice wine that is made from fermented rice and nuruk yeast. It has a milky white color and a sweet and tangy taste. It is usually served chilled as a drink or mixed with fruit juices or soda.


Rice wine is a versatile and delicious ingredient that can improve your Asian dishes or drinks. The answer to the question: does rice wine need to be refrigerated? is no, unless you want to extend its shelf life or enjoy it cold. However, you should always store it in a cool dark place and keep it tightly sealed to prevent oxidation and spoilage. You can also use other types of wine as replacements for rice wine if you don’t have it on hand, but make sure to adjust the amount and seasonings accordingly. Rice wine comes in various varieties and names, each with its own characteristics and uses. Why not try some of them and see which one you like best?


  • Q: What is the difference between Chinese rice wine and Chinese cooking wine?
  • A: Chinese rice wine is a general term for various types of alcoholic beverages made from fermented rice in China. Chinese cooking wine is a specific type of rice wine that has salt added to it to make it unsuitable for drinking but suitable for cooking.
  • Q: How long does rice wine last once opened?
  • A: Rice wine can last for several months or even years after opening if stored properly in a cool dark place. However, it will gradually lose its flavor and aroma over time due to oxidation. You can check the expiration date on the label or look for signs of spoilage such as cloudiness, sedimentation, or sour smell.
  • Q: Can I drink rice wine as it is?
  • A: Yes, you can drink rice wine as it is, depending on your personal preference and the type of rice wine. Some people like to drink rice wine at room temperature or slightly warm, while others like to drink it chilled or mixed with other beverages. However, you should be aware of the alcohol content of the rice wine and drink responsibly.
  • Q: How do I use rice wine in cooking?
  • A: Rice wine can be used in various ways in cooking, such as adding flavor and aroma to dishes, tenderizing meat, enhancing sauces, deglazing pans, or making soups. You can use rice wine as it is or mix it with other ingredients such as soy sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic, or scallions.
  • Q: What are some dishes that use rice wine?
  • A: Some examples of dishes that use rice wine are:
    • Drunken chicken: A Chinese dish that involves poaching chicken in rice wine and spices
    • Teriyaki chicken: A Japanese dish that involves marinating chicken in soy sauce, sugar, sake, and mirin (a type of sweet rice wine)
    • Bibimbap: A Korean dish that involves mixing rice with various toppings such as vegetables, meat, egg, gochujang (a spicy paste), and makgeolli (a type of milky rice wine)

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