Rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar are very popular ingredients in many Asian dishes. Additionally, rice wine is an alcoholic beverage you can use for cooking or drinking. Rice wine vinegar is ideal to make dishes such as sushi, sauces, salad dressing, and fried rice.
When rice is put through the fermentation process it can be used to create rice vinegar or rice wine or rice wine vinegar. But what exactly is the difference between them? Both types of vinegar bring flavor to your Asian dishes, but each has a completely different flavor profile.
In this article, we will look at rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar in greater detail so you can see the differences and similarities between them.
Rice Vinegar Defined
Rice vinegar is made from fermenting the sugar into alcohol, and then into acid to remove the alcohol. This liquid is strong so it’s diluted and then cooked to decrease its acidity.
The rice vinegar is often used to make dishes sweeter and is popular in East Africa, Vietnam, and Southeast Asia.
Rice Wine Vinegar Defined
Rice wine vinegar is made by fermenting the sugar in the rice and turning it into alcohol. This leaves the mixture less acidic and gives it a mild sweet flavor. The main difference between rice wine and rice wine vinegar is that one contains alcohol and the other one doesn’t.
Rice wine vinegar can be consumed on its own, or used for cooking. It has an alcohol content of 18 – 25% ABV. The low alcohol content is less than your average beer. Sake is a popular rice wine that you may have heard of. It originates from Japan and is becoming quite popular in the western world.
You can add rice wine vinegar to soups, stir fry, and vegetable dishes. This vinegar is made from rice, lactic acid, fungi, and yeast.
What is the Difference?
Manufacturers make most types of vinegar out of fermented fruit. On the other hand, fermented rice is used to make rice wine. Additionally, rice wine vinegar is also made from fermented rice but a different process is used to create it.
Using glutinous rice is best for making rice wine. While rice wine vinegar is made from the dregs or lees once all the alcohol has evaporated.
Rice wine is sweet and mild while rice wine vinegar tastes similar to apple cider vinegar and has a strong flavor profile. These are not interchangeable and using the incorrect type will change the taste of your dish. You can add rice wine vinegar to marinade, salad dressings or pickle vegetables. It comes in a range of colors from completely clear to different shades of red.
The nutritional value between each type is also different, rice wine vinegar is high in calories and carbohydrates and it doesn’t contain salts or sugars. Rice vinegar contains salts and sugar but doesn’t contain many calories or carbohydrates.
What can you Use as A Substitute for Rice Wine Vinegar?
Although you can’t substitute rice vinegar with rice wine vinegar, it can be substituted for other ingredients. If the recipe calls for rice wine vinegar you can use dry white wine, gin, white grape juice, or pale sherry.
If your dish calls for rice vinegar you can use champagne vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or lime to create the same flavor profile.
Different Types of Vinegar
Every kitchen should have vinegar in the cupboard, but did you know there are many different types of vinegar available?
- Distilled white vinegar: This is the type used in most cooking and found in most homes. It has a harsh smell and a sharp, bitter taste. The vinegar is extracted from grain and is very crisp.
- Balsamic vinegar: Usually added to Italian dishes, this vinegar is made by fermenting grapes. It adds a lovely zesty, sweet flavor. Its unique taste makes it a perfect addition to sweet or savory dishes.
- Red wine vinegar: When added to dishes it gives them a sweet, less acidic taste which makes it ideal for reductions or vinaigrettes.
- White wine vinegar: Made from white wine it has a light taste and is the perfect addition to soups or to make dressings for salad.
- Apple cider vinegar: Many people use this vinegar for weight loss or as a toner for their skin, but it can also be used in salad dressings, chutneys, and marinades.
- Champagne vinegar: known for its very mild flavor it’s an excellent addition to seafood dishes. It can also be added to sauces, marinades, and salad dressings.
- Lemon or lime: Although it isn’t technically vinegar, it can be added to rice vinegar to be used in salad dressings, and sauces. Double the amount of lemon that you add to rice vinegar to add extra acidity to your dish. This will give your dish a very distinctive flavor.
- Seasoned rice vinegar: This is created by adding sugar and salt to regular rice vinegar. As this vinegar will be much sweeter, don’t forget to remove four tablespoons of sugar from the original recipe.
Watch this YouTube video to find out how to make rice white wine at home:
How to Use Rice Wine Vinegar to Add Flavor?
Rice wine vinegar is made from sake, which is made from fermented rice. It has a mild, sweet flavor. Add it to your food to add a bit of sweetness or for sweet-and-sour dishes. The acetic acid allows for the exact amount of sweetness that you need.
- Asian dressings: Combine rice wine vinegar with sesame oil, soy sauce, or ginger for a strong Asian twist.
- Sushi rice: Make the most delicious sushi rice by mixing rice wine vinegar with sugar and a pinch of salt.
- Asian sauces: Rice wine vinegar is an excellent addition to cooked sauces. The flavor changes dramatically when added to different ingredients, so experimenting with the flavor profile is encouraged.
- Pickling: You can use rice wine vinegar to pickle vegetables such as peppers, cauliflower, or cucumbers in a mixture of vinegar, water, and salt. Use rice wine vinegar to make the tastiest salty pickles.
- Marinades: Added to marinades it adds a wonderful Asian flavor. Use it to glaze chicken, soften pork or mix with teriyaki to add an extra kick of flavor.
- Chips: Rice wine vinegar and chips go hand in hand. If you like ordinary vinegar on your chips, you’ll enjoy them even more after pouring rice wine vinegar on them. It gives them a subtle sweet-and-sour flavor that is hard to compete with. You may never use regular vinegar again.
- Stir-fries: Making a stir-fry has never been as easy or tasted so good. Fry your favorite veggies and add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and serve on a bed of rice or noodles.
Tips and Tricks
- Rice wine vinegar is known for its light taste. This makes it perfect to use in salads or to season vegetables
- Use it to thicken sauces or to add to dishes such as Szechwan beef or Pork Lo Mein
- To make a simple salad dressing in only a few minutes, blend oil and rice wine vinegar. You will be amazed at how it elevates the taste of the salad
- Once the bottle has been opened, you must use it within 6 months
- Use as a simple marinade for chicken wings
Is Rice Wine Vinegar Good for Your Health?
There is a current movement, everyone is trying to go green and eat healthier. Instead of snacking on chips and dip. People are snacking on zucchini fries and using healthy dip alternatives. Dips or sauces made with rice wine vinegar, not only taste amazing, they are surprisingly healthy.
Other benefits include:
- Less acidity: Acidity in food can wreak havoc with your stomach and digestive system and have a very strong taste. Rice wine vinegar contains a lot less acid, the acetic acid it contains is excellent for your digestion and helps your body absorb nutrients more easily.
- Stunning Skincare: Using it on your skin will make you appear more radiant, reduce inflammation. Make you look less puffy and tired and does wonders on those bags under your eyes
- Fight’s bacteria: It can be used as a natural medicine for its antiseptic properties
- Improved immune system: As it contains amino acids it’s great at boosting your immune system. If you feel a cold coming on add it to your food for an instant pick me up. It will give you a great boost of energy, reduce feelings of fatigue and improves overall health
- Detoxifies your liver: Consuming rice wine vinegar detoxifies your liver and acts as a liver tonic
- Aids in weight loss: Consuming just a small amount will help you lose weight and keep it off
Both types of vinegar are made from fermented rice but have very different flavors. You can’t substitute one type for the other because they taste completely different. So, to answer the question, can I use rice vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar?
The answer is no. Although many alternatives can be used instead.
When used in moderation rice wine vinegar adds impressive flavor and brings your Asian-inspired dishes to the next level.