Shaoxing Huadiao Rice Wine for Cooking

22 Reviews

Liaojiu, or cooking wine, is an everyday, indispensable ingredient in Chinese cuisines, used in almost all dishes with meat or fish as a marinade and/or sauce component. Shaoxing Huadiao Rice Cooking Wine is considered the best liaojiu in the supermarket.

The city of Shaoxing has been making wine for millennia in eastern China's Zhejiang province, and its huangjiu, or yellow wine, is considered the pinnacle of the country's traditional winemaking. It's a rich but mellow, slightly sweet and nutty wine that pairs exceptionally well with China's other frequently used sauces, particularly soy sauce (think red-braised pork belly or three-cup chicken). 

Guyue Longshan is one of the oldest and largest makers of Shaoxing wine and has multiple categories and brands. Huadiao jiu is the designation for the finest medium-dry Shaoxing wine, which was traditionally aged in earthenware crocks with etched decoration called huadiao.

Shaoxing wine is made from glutinous rice and it includes wheat, because almost all Chinese sauces are brewed with a wheat-based starter (daqu fermentation).

This huadiao also has added salt. The wine is 16% alcohol and includes 1.5% salt so that it can be sold as food vs wine. It also has caramel for color, but no additional spices, ethanol or additives, as lesser liaojiu brands often have. 

Before you ask!  Here's why we don't offer a non-salted Shaoxing wine:

  • Much to our disappointment, most states will issue permits allowing direct shipment of wine to their residents only to wineries or businesses with a wine manufacturer's license. And some states don't allow it at all. 
  • Most importantly, Chinese Americans and many cooks in China (outside Zhejiang) stock their pantries with cooking wine they buy at their local supermarket! The Western rule of cooking only with a wine you would drink just does not apply in China, where wine's main function is to dispel the gamey, fishy or funky aspects of raw meats and fish. Most Chinese recipes in English assume you are using a salted cooking wine. 
  • Drinkable Shaoxing wine is nice to have for recipes where the wine plays a central role in the flavor of a dish (such as drunken chicken), but even then cooking wine may be used with little ultimate effect on the flavor for dishes that are also salted and cooked. 
  • So in summary, if you want to drink Shaoxing wine, do look for the oldest and best one you can find, but if you are cooking with it, don't sweat the salt! 

    Our taste tests show that how recently the bottle was opened and how it is stored do have an effect on its flavor, so we advise refrigeration of open bottles. 

    Producer: Zhejiang Guyue Longshan Shaoxing Wine Co. 
    Size: 20.4 ounces
    Ingredients: glutinous rice, water, wheat, caramel (for color), salt
    Contains: wheat