Rice Wine Vs. Rice Vinegar- What’s the Difference?

Rice wine and rice vinegar can be traced down to Asian countries like Korea, Vietnam, China, Japan, India, Thailand, and the Philippines. It is part of the Asian people’s tradition to use unusual ingredients in preparing their cuisines, such as rice wine, rice vinegar, and other sauces.

These unusual ingredients are used in nearly all Asian recipes because it induces flavor and improves the taste of the dishes. An amateur chef can easily get confused if not properly guided on the differences between these ingredients and how to use them.

One might think they can be substituted with the other while preparing a dish, whereas it’s not totally true. However, stay glued to this post to become knowledgeable as we intensively compare rice wine vs. rice vinegar.

Rice Wine Vs. Rice Vinegar

What is Rice Wine?

Rice wine is a traditional alcoholic drink that is also used for cooking. It is a very popular beverage in India, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. Rice Wine is obtained from fermenting steamed glutinous rice using lactic acid bacteria, yeast, and fungi.

The alcoholic content in rice wine is within the range of 18-25% ABV, which is relatively low compared to Western wines and beers. This rice liquid makes your meal sweeter than its typical taste.

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Types of Rice Wine

There are numerous types of rice wine with roots across Asia. However, we will be looking at a few of the most common ones, including sake, mirin, and Shaoxing.

The most popular of them all is sake, a dry Japanese wine. It can serve as a marinade or a broth for seafood or an excellent steaming liquid. Sake is derived from milled rice, water, and a special fungus called Koji.

Mirin is a type of sweet Japanese rice wine. It is used as a coat for seafood and in sauces like teriyaki sauce. It also has a high alcohol content and could lead to drunkenness when taken excessively.

On the other hand, Shaoxing is a caramel-colored Chinese rice wine used in preparing delicious dishes like drunken chicken.

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What is Rice Vinegar?

Rice vinegar is a type of vinegar that is also known as rice wine vinegar. It is derived by converting the sugar content in the rice into alcohol through a fermentation process before transforming the alcohol into acid. Rice vinegar is used in dressing salads, making sauces, marinades, and pickling veggies.

This rice produce also serves as an enhancer in food preparation. It improves the flavor of marinades, sushi, fried rice, and other dishes. Rice vinegar is sweeter than the regular white refined vinegar and has lesser acidic content.

Types of Rice Vinegar

The different types of rice vinegar that are available in the market are based on their color and origin. Based on origin, we have the Japanese rice wine and the Chinese rice wine. While based on color, we have the white rice wine, the black rice wine, and the brown rice wine.

The Chinese rice vinegar is produced in China and has more than one color. The color ranges from dark hazel to white and black. It is the strongest of them all but has less acidic content.

The Japanese rice vinegar has more acidic content than its counterparts. The color varies from light yellow to white. Plus, the taste is milder and sweet.

Homemade Rice vinegar

Rice Wine vs. Rice Vinegar

If you are not familiar with Asian dishes, it will be difficult to tell the difference between rice wine vs. rice vinegar. In this section, we will be comparing the similarities and differences between these two products.

Although rice vinegar is also obtained from the same source as rice wine, it is processed differently and serves different purposes.


The similarities between these two rice products are limited when compared to their differences. However, one notable similarity between rice wine and rice vinegar is that they are both obtained from rice and undergo a fermentation process.

Also, both rice produces are used in cooking a wide variety of Asian dishes and are a necessity in the country’s cuisines.


Fermentation Process

These two ingredients undergo a different kind of fermentation process. The fermentation process of making rice vinegar takes longer than that of rice wine. The rice wine is gotten when the sugar content in the rice is fermented into alcohol. And the further fermentation of rice wine produces rice vinegar.

The natural alcohol content of rice wine is converted into acetic acid to produce rice vinegar. It is also known as the lees part of fermented rice.


Rice wine has a low alcoholic content which makes it have a mild aroma and a sweet taste. Rice vinegar, on the other hand, is likened to a sour rice liquid. It has a higher alcoholic content but is in acidic form.

Nutritional Content

Rice vinegar has a high content of minerals and vitamins. It contains phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Rice wine is rich in amino acids, organic acids, vitamins, sugar, and minerals.

The nutritional content of any of these two rice liquids is dependent on the usage. However, five liquid ounces of rice wine is equivalent to 7.5 grams of carbs and 201 calories, while a tablespoon of pure rice vinegar is equivalent to 0 grams of carbs and 0 calories.


Rice wine is often served as a drink because of its sweetness. However, it can also be used in cooking.

On the other hand, Rice vinegar is used in different ways, largely depending on its color. Each color has a subtly different taste, flavor, and usage. Although rice vinegar is mainly used for preparing meals, it can also be used as a face toner or a washing agent for white clothes.

Moreover, due to its acidic nature, it is advisable to use rice vinegar in small quantities when cooking.

Health Benefits

A debatable topic for occasional cooks of Asian dishes is the health benefits of rice wine and rice vinegar, especially in food preparation. Both rice liquids are beneficial to health in so many ways.

Rice wine prevents the skin from wrinkling by increasing collagen. It protects the skin against harmful lights and ultraviolet rays. The wine has an anti-aging element that delays the signs of old age in a person.

Rice wine also helps in keeping the digestive system safe and healthy by fighting harmful bacteria. It also improves the immune system of humans and reduces the risk of cancer.

The rice vinegar serves as an antioxidant booster that fights against all forms of skin breakage and bacterial infections. It helps in reducing blood sugar levels and also aids in fighting against skin cancer.

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Are There Substitutes for Rice Vinegar?

Definitely, there are alternatives for rice vinegar in the market that can be used in its absence. They include apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, white wine vinegar, distilled vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and sherry vinegar.


Whether you are cooking your favorite Asian cuisine or a Japanese dish, any of these ingredients will turn your meal into a remarkable one. To get the best out of either the rice wine and the rice vinegar, you need to know the difference between the two.

We hope this article on rice wine vs. rice vinegar was helpful and enlightening.

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