“Liaojiu, a.k.a. Shaoxing wine.” I know I say that quite a bit in these recipes, so here, I wanted to explain myself a bit. We’ll go over the varieties of Shaoxing wine (plus, the Shaoxing wine-like objects labeled such in English), a bit about the historical background, and why/how it’s used when cooking.

Now note that neither of us are brewers or anything, so our knowledge of how to make this rice wine’s rather… elementary. We’d be happy to answer any questions, but we probably won’t make rice wine on this channel anytime soon. Maybe one day though?

The discussion’ll be over on Reddit at the standard time, ~8am EST. In hindsight, I’m not sure how much more ground I’d be able to reasonably cover there, but I know that I was pretty fast and loose with Chinese-language terms here so I know that something written can often be helpful on that front.

As for the Instagram, it’s over here if you’re curious… lots of pictures from Shaoxing/Yangzhou/Gaoyou, and more should be on the way:


And check out our Patreon if you’d like to support the project!


Outro Music: “Add And” by Broke For Free

Learn how to cook real deal, authentic Chinese food! We post recipes every Tuesday (unless we happen to be travelling) 🙂

We’re Steph and Chris – a food-obsessed couple that lives in Shenzhen, China. Steph is from Guangzhou and loves cooking food from throughout China – you’ll usually be watching her behind the wok. Chris is a long-term expat from America that’s been living in China and loving it for the last nine years – you’ll be listening to his explanations and recipe details, and doing some cooking at times as well.

This channel is all about learning how to cook the same taste that you’d get in China. Our goal for each video is to give you a recipe that would at least get you close to what’s made by some of our favorite restaurants here. Because of that, our recipes are no-holds-barred Chinese when it comes to style and ingredients – but feel free to ask for tips about adaptations and sourcing too!


39 thoughts on “What is Shaoxing Wine, and why's it in almost every Chinese recipe?”

  1. i have been watching your videos for a bit but since i bought a wok i have dived deeper into your videos and your content and the amount of information is very good. all the places you talk about makes me want to know their history and try their food and talk to the people there

  2. What's the difference between shaoxing wine and Bee chiew rice wine? I use the latter at home coz it's the one i have now.

    It does work with any chinese food I've made be it steamed ginger garlic fish or the basic fried rice. But i just wanna know what's the difference and should i have both?

  3. Your better, true Shaoxing wines have subtleties in their flavors. The stuff in American grocery stores labeled Shao Hsing Cooking wines are nasty tasting. Any professional cook or chef will tell you that in cooking, when it comes to adding wines or sherries to a sauce or a dish, you only use what is good to drink. Since good Japanese sakes are available in my area, I use those as substitute for Chinese cooking instead, sometimes I add just a tiny bit of cognac to the sake to get the taste almost exact to Shaoxing. Using excellent ingredients really elevates your cooking.

  4. so when a receipe calls for chinese rice wine, is it the same as sake or japanese rice wine? Or when it calls for shaoxing wine is it the same as chinese rice wine? Yet some receipes seperate them as different things, confused..There is also clear chinese rice wine…? and lot of bottles don't have chinese labels.. Also if the different wines don't taste the same, that means we can't substitute it?

  5. Ah On one hand I am happy to learn more about this wine. I have been trying to adapt a lot of Chinese cooking to my diet and your channel had been a huge boon. On the other hand I am so sad to learn it has wheat/barely ingredients 🥺 I am glad that I was never able to find it in my rural community as of yet so I didn't have unexplained reactions. I will stick to subbing mirin!

  6. I'd love to see more on all of the Chinese wines. I've been especially fascinated by Kuei Hua Chen Chiew (osmanthus) after tasting it, but I can hardly find anything on it besides the ingredients.
    Or if anyone has a good resource on it, that'd be amazing! 😁

  7. Even in Asian grocery stores here in Canada, I have trouble finding the non-salted version. The only place I've consistently found the non-salted wine is in liquor stores (Zhejiang Pagoda brand). It's definitely more expensive (~$17/bottle), but since I only use a tablespoon or so of it at a time in cooking, the price doesn't bother me too much, and I have better control over the saltiness!

  8. When i went into my asian Food Store i simply asked , i need cooking wine for tradional recipes , they showed me the one they prefer for cooking . The one is very good even its a simple an cheap one the smell is so Asian Resturant like i love it. Everything tastes way more authentic

  9. Wine from China should be boycotted. The Communist government relocated Hui Muslims against their will and forced them to work as cheap labor at the vineyards. Netflix has a series called “Rotten”episode 2, “Reign of Terroir” is about the wine industry.

  10. Added some to olive tapenade today and it adds another delicious layer of flavor. For the opposite way, I've substituted tequila into some Chinese recipes when I was too lazy to drive to Ranch 99. I loved the "Wallace and Gromit" chicken!

  11. Would it be fair to say it's not needed in veggie dishes if the main purpose is to balance meat flavours? I'm trying to develop my Chinese cooking technique from the mostly meaty videos here and I've experimented without shoaxing in every dish like I used to, seems better to me.

  12. Man do i miss being in china.

    Didnt know any of this during my time there. I just thought shaoxing was meant only for cooking and never for drinking. I was introduced to huangjiu in hangzhou/ningbo and was hooked, since it tasted like honeyed wine to me. Sadly, never sought it out outside of these regions. Didnt realize these wines were actually related.

    Thanks again for an informative video

  13. My Chinese cookbook from ~1970 recommends dry sherry as a replacement if you cannot buy shaoshing wine in your local store.
    Interestingly enough, the taste of both is quite close.

  14. I live in a place where shaoxing wine is REALLY difficult to find. I had almost forgotten about the existence of such a liquid but I saw a bottle at the liquor store so I had to buy it. Turns out it is the same one as the one shown in the video at 4:05! I am so happy, I've been wanting to try it for ages!

  15. Wow – fantastically clear, informative and enjoyable!

    Questions – Moon Lake is the no-salt brand of Hua Diao rice wine at my Asian market:

    1. Is it the "Jiafanjiu Semi-Dry Shaoxing" variety you mention as preferred for cooking? 2. In relation to the Jiafanjiu variety, how does it rate for cooking, in your view? 3. Once opened, how long will it last for cooking, refrigerated?

  16. Awesome video. I was wondering about these things, because i got back to Europe and crave some chinese food. When i look up recipes online i realize that all of them contain stuff like shaoxing cooking wine, or oyster sauce (watched your video on oyster sauce too), and these things are hard to find here. So i wanted to get all of the info on these topics and you answered all of my questions.

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