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Shaoxing Wine (紹興酒) is a commonly used wine in Chinese Cuisine. This wine originated from the region of Shao Xing in China. There have been records of the use of shaoxing wine for at least 2500 years. While it can be drank, most people use it primarily for cooking. In the Chinese supermarket, the wine has been fitted with salt which makes it unpalatable for drinking. The reason this is done is because supermarket would need to get a liquor license to sell it. This is a cheap and easy work around. To get true shaoxing wine, you need to go to a specialty shop.
As of 2015, it is estimated that 500,000 tons of wine is manufactured annually.
Components for Quality Shao Xing Wine
Various factors will affect the quality of Shao Xing wine. For example, certain climate such as those in the ShaoYu Plain will have certain bacteria for its own distinct flavor. Humidity can also affect the growth of microorganism. It is said that there is a estimated of over 400 different bacteria involved in making shaoxing wine. Since the different seasons can affect the growth of bacteria, shaoxing wine is usually made seasonally.
The water from Jian Hu is critical in the production of shaoxing wine. Water from Jian Hu is considered to the blood of wine. Jian Hu water generally contains less mineral and is generally less harsh than from other sources. The Hydrogen content of the water is also critical in the production of the wine. Some manufacturers have tried to replicate shaoxing wine by using water from other sources. However, none were successful of replicating the flavor.
The base ingredient used to make these wine is Glutinous Rice. While Sake also use rice to ferment it, the flavor profile is quite different.
ShaoXing Wine Substitute
The most commonly used substitute for shaoxing wine is sherry wine. It is the closest in flavor. However, if you can, I recommend that you stick with the original one. If you are a in a pinch, you can try mirin or sake, but really, they are its own flavor. They act more as an accent than anything else. For wine braised dish like Drunken Chicken (醉雞), then stick with the original.
Health and Nutrition
Depending on the type of wine you get, alcohol content will vary. Drinking wine in huge quantity is not recommended and can get you drunk. If you intend to just use it for cooking, then alcohol content will be greatly reduced. However, it will never be completely gone. If your child has a strict no alcohol diet, then they should avoid eating it. But in my opinion, it wont really affect them. Use your best judgement.
Nutrition wise, there is not much that stands out. The value that I gathered is for a generic brand. Every brand will vary depending on the type and quality you get.
Shaoxing Wine Nutritional Facts
|Serving Size||1 cup (50ml) Serving Per Container 15|
|Sodium||133 mg 5.5%|
|Total Carbohydrate||1.3g .4%|
|Other Carbs||0 g added sugar|
Where to Buy ShaoXing Wine
You can find it at any Major Chinese Supermarket. If they carry a liquor license, then they might carry the authentic non salted version. Specialty herb and wine shop like Wing Hop Fung might carry it as well. Although I would call to check. However, if you intend to just cook with it, then online retailer like amazon will carry. The price is a bit inflated though.
You should generally store it in the fridge after opening. Having said that, I store it right next to the stove for easy access…
Shaoxing Wine is a key ingredient in Chinese cooking. If you intend on cooking Chinese food, it is recommended that you pick at least one bottle up. Eventually you will need it for one of the recipe. I recommend adding a splash of it next time you stir fry or braise food. It will give a lovely accent to your food.
For other Common Chinese cooking ingredient, then consider looking at TianJin Preserved Vegetable.