Rice wine

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A bottle of cheongju, a Korean rice wine.

Rice wine is an alcoholic beverage made from rice. Unlike European wine, which is made by fermentation of naturally sweet grapes and other fruit, rice wine is made from the fermentation of rice starch converted to sugars. This process is akin to that used to produce beer. However, beer production employs a mashing process to convert starch to sugars, whereas rice wine uses the amylolytic process.

Sake is often referred to in English-speaking countries as "rice wine"; however, this usage is a misnomer.[citation needed] Sake is produced by means of a brewing process using a mash similar to that which is used for beer. Thus, sake would be more accurately referred to as "rice beer" rather than as "rice wine".[citation needed]

Rice wine typically has a higher alcohol content, 18%–25% ABV, than grape wine (9%–16%), which in turn has a higher alcohol content than beer (usually 4%–6%).

Rice wine is much used in Chinese cuisine and in other Asian cuisines. A common substitute for it is pale dry sherry.[1]

Origin and spread[edit]

Alcoholic beverages distilled from rice were formerly exclusive to East Asian and Southeast Asian countries. Later, knowledge of the distillation process reached India and parts of South Asia through trade.


A woman in Laos makes rice wine
A bottle of Tapuy, a Philippine rice wine.

Some types of rice wine are:

  • Ang Jiu - Chinese red rice wine, popular among the FooChow Chinese (Malaysia, China)
  • Ara - Bhutanese rice, millet, or maize wine
  • Brem - Balinese rice wine
  • Cheongju - Korean rice wine
    • Beopju - a variety of cheongju
  • Choujiu - A milky glutinous rice wine popular in Xi'an, China
  • Gamju - A milky, sweet rice wine from Korea
  • Huangjiu - A Chinese fermented rice wine, literally "yellow wine" or "yellow liquor", with colors varying from clear to brown or brownish red.
  • Kulapo - A reddish rice wine with strong odor and alcohol content from the Philippines
  • Lao-Lao - A clear rice wine from Laos
  • Lihing - Kadazan rice wine (Sabah, Malaysian Borneo)
  • Makgeolli - a milky traditional rice wine indigenous to Korea
  • Mijiu - a clear, sweet Chinese rice wine/liqueur made from fermented glutinous rice.
  • Pangasi - Rice wine from Mindanao in the Philippines.
  • Raksi - Tibetan and Nepali rice wine
  • Rượu cần - Vietnamese rice wine drunk through long, thin bamboo tubes
  • Sake - A rice wine from Japan. The most widely known type of Rice wine in North America because of its ubiquitous appearance in sushi restaurants.
  • Sato - A rice wine originating in the Isan region of Thailand
  • Sombai - Cambodian infused rice wine with sugar cane, fruits and spices still inside the bottle
  • Shaoxing - A rice wine from Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, China, probably the best known Chinese rice wine
  • Soju - Korean rice wine
  • Sonti - Indian rice wine
  • Tapuy - Clear rice wine from the Mountain Province in the Philippines
  • Tapai - Kadazandusun rice wine (Sabah, Malaysian Borneo)
  • Tuak - Dayak rice wine (Kalimantan, Indonesian, Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo)
  • Cholai - A reddish rice wine from West Bengal, India
  • Thi- Kayan rice wine,served in a clay-pot with a straw to sip (Kayah State, Myanmar).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rice wine recipes", BBC, accessed 31 March 2011.

Further reading[edit]