Rice Wine: Benefits & How to Make

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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You may be unaware of rice wine if you haven’t traveled in Asia or tried many exotic forms of alcohol, but it possesses a number of health benefits you should know about.

What is Rice Wine?

Although labeled a “wine,” rice wine bears more of a similarity to beer, as it is created from fermented rice or grains, as are most other beer varieties. As such, it is not gluten-free. It is consumed throughout South and East Asia, in many different cuisines and drinking. Rice wine is available in a variety of flavors – some are sweet, while others are light – so it is nearly impossible to describe the beverage at once – akin to telling someone who has never drunk beer what all beers taste like.

The most popular types worldwide are Shaoxing, mirin, and sake. It is stronger than beer or most wines, coming in at about 15%-20% alcohol by volume (ABV).

  • Rice wine is often confused with rice wine vinegar (also called rice vinegar), which has been further fermented into an acid for cooking and tastes a bit sweeter than traditional white vinegar.
  • Rice wine meant for cooking can usually be stored for a few years in a cool, dark place (such as a cabinet) and still keep well.
  • High-quality types are intended for drinking, such as sake. They taste best when drunk shortly after they’re sold, and should definitely be consumed quickly after the bottle has been opened.

Rice Wine Benefits

Various research studies conducted on this beverage in East Asia suggest that it is beneficial for health in a number of ways:

  • Promotes blood circulation
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Boost immunity and metabolism
  • The presence of lactic acid and bacteria in rice wine makes it a probiotic, thereby promoting stomach health
  • Anticancer potential
  • Serves as an anti-bacterial substance
  • Slows down the signs of aging and protects against the harmful effects of UV rays

How to Make?

It’s easy to make rice wine. Just follow the steps mentioned below.

Rice wine vinegar pouring out of a white bottle into a glass bowl.

How To Make Rice Wine

A kind of clear wine, made out of fermented rice, rice wine is known for its powerful and distinctive flavor. It is a good substitute for sake or sweet mirin and is often used in East Asian cooking. All you need are two ingredients and plenty of patience to see it ferment. Now, without any further ado, let's follow these steps to make rice wine at home. 
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Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: Rice Wine
Appliance: Stove
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Ishani Bose


  • 2 cups glutenous “sticky” rice
  • 1 ball Asian rice yeast


  • To make rice wine, cook the rice according to package directions, making sure it is sticky when done.
  • Spread the rice out on a baking sheet to cool.
  • Break up the yeast ball in a small bowl using a spoon. Spoon a layer of room-temperature rice into the container and sprinkle some yeast on top, then repeat the process until all your yeast and rice has been layered in the container.
  • Seal the container and wait! Place the container in a warm place for five days. If you check it daily, you can see the yeast will be breaking down the rice. The resulting liquid, the beginnings of the wine, will pool at the bottom of the container. Feel free to taste a little!

Rice Wine vs Mirin vs Sake

Both mirin and sake are types of rice wine

  • Mirin is typically used as a cooking wine in Japanese cuisine
  • Sake is famous for being served in Japanese restaurants worldwide, particularly accompanied by sushi

Word of Warning: Alcohol can impair your judgment, a particularly dangerous reality when operating heavy machinery. Women who are pregnant should not consume alcohol, as it can cause fetal alcohol syndrome in infants. Excessive drinking can also lead to serious health problems, such as cancer and heart failure, and in severe cases, even death.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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