What’s the Difference Between Rice Wine and Rice Vinegar?

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What Is Seasoned Rice Vinegar?

Seasoned rice vinegar is a type of rice vinegar that has added sugars and salts. It has a sweet flavor and often contains more calories than rice wine vinegar. Seasoned rice vinegar is typically used to flavor sushi rice or as part of a vinaigrette in salads, and it should not be used interchangeably with rice vinegar, which is much milder. You can make your own seasoned rice vinegar by adding salt and sugar to regular rice wine vinegar.

Rice Wine Vinegar

Price- $23.49

Price- $23.49

Rice wine vinegar is made by fermenting rice sugars into wine. However, rice wine vinegar is created by fermenting steamed glutinous rice instead of rice or sake lees.

It has a subtle delicately sweet flavor relative to other kinds of vinegar and does exceptionally well in sauces and salad dressings. There are different varieties of rice wine vinegar made from various types of rice including black glutinous rice, red yeast rice, and brown rice.

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What is rice vinegar?

Some brands refer to rice vinegar as rice wine vinegar. There are two processes involved in the creation of rice vinegar.

You first have to ferment the rice to form alcohol, and after that, you let it turn to acid. Rice vinegar has less acid compared to white distilled vinegar. It also has a sweet flavor that You can feel from afar.

Rice vinegar is used in salad dressing and to marinate meat.

It comes in different shades. There is the clear o

It comes in different shades. There is the clear one and ones that come in different shades of red-brown. Depending on the color, expect different tastes.

Types of rice vinegar:

There are two ways you can classify rice vinegar. You can classify based on strength and based on whether it is seasoned or not.

White rice vinegar

This is the standard type of rice vinegar that you will find in most supermarkets and grocery shops. It is clear, clean, and with a mild flavor.

Brown rice vinegar

As the name suggests, it is brown. It has more nutrients compared to white rice vinegar. However, its flavor is equally as mild as white rice vinegar. This means, whenever a recipe asks for either white rice vinegar or brown rice vinegar, you can use them interchangeably.

Red rice vinegar

Red rice vinegar has a sweet and sour taste.  You might find its smell a little unpleasant. The rice used to make red wine vinegar is usually already fermented. They also add sorghum and barley to the fermented rice before the vinegar is made.

Similar t the other vinegar types, red rice vinegar has a lot of health benefits. It is an antioxidant, helps in weight loss, and stabilizes blood sugar.

Black rice vinegar

LIke red rice vinegar, this is also made using fermented rice, barley, and sorghum. It has a rich flavor, and you will find it being used as a dipping sauce too.

Seasoned rice vinegar

Seasoned rice vinegar has more flavor compared to unseasoned vinegar. Seasoned rice vinegar is made from plain rice vinegar that has been flavored. Seasoned rice vinegar has added salts and sugar; therefore, it is sweeter. Sometimes it has corn syrup too. It has more calories; therefore, you should be careful with it if you check your weight.

Seasoned rice vinegar makes nice sushi rice and salads. It makes sushi rice delightful.

Plain rice vinegar

This is rice vinegar that has no additives like sugar, salt, or corn syrup.

Substitutes for rice vinegar

RIce vinegar has a distinct flavor that can hardly be replaced by anything else. However, if you get a recipe that requires you to use rice wine vinegar but does not have it in your kitchen, these substitutes would work wonderfully.

Apple cider vinegar

As the name suggests, it is made from apple cider. Apply cider is fermented to create this vinegar.

It has a mild taste and a subtle smell of apples. You can use Apple cider vinegar in any recipe that requires vinegar rice. However, if you want that sweetness in rice vinegar and absent in apple cider vinegar, add a quarter teaspoon of sugar to a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.

White wine vinegar

White wine is fermented to make white wine vinegar. White wine vinegar has a mild flavor that is somewhat acidic, just like rice vinegar. However, it is less sweet. Therefore in recipes that require rice vinegar, you can add sugar in the ratio of 1:1.

 You will use it in sauces and salad dressings.

Champagne vinegar

Champagne vinegar can also work as a substitute for rice wine vinegar. Like all vinegar, it is made from fermenting wine (champagne). It has a subtle and mild flavor, just like rice vinegar. You can use it in seafood, marinades, salad dressings, and sauces. Use it in the ratio 1:1.

Lemon juice

You can use lemon instead of rice vinegar in salads and sauces. You can use lime juice too. Lemons have high amounts of acid. This mimics the acidity found in vinegar. It brings about some liveliness to salads. However, you should note that using lemon or lime will bring a citrus flavor to your salad.

To have the perfect substitute for your rice vinegar, the amount of lemon juice you use should be twice the amount of vinegar you would have used.

Seasoned vinegar

When sherry wine is fermented, we get sherry vinegar. It has a rich flavor that is somewhat nutty and sweet. It has equal acidity levels as rice vinegar, and you can use it in marinades and sauces. Use it in the ratio of 1:1.

However, there are things you should never use as a substitute for rice vinegar.

What not to substitute with rice vinegar

It is key to note that as much as some types of vinegar work as substitutes for rice vinegar, not all kinds of vinegar do.

Some kinds of vinegar are a bit too acidic for use, while some are too sweet. It would help to taste the vinegar first before adding it to your food. This will help you know the degree of sweetness and acidity.

Herb vinegar

Some kinds of vinegar are flavored with herbs. Most of them cannot work instead of rice vinegar. This is because herbs have a distinct herbal smell that might not work for some dishes.

Fruit flavored vinegar

Just like herbal vinegar, the fruit-flavored kinds of vinegar have a strong fruity flavor too. It would be strange to use raspberry vinegar in a slaw dressing.  If you want to use fruit-flavored vinegar, then try to use citrus vinegar options.

Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is dark and sweet, too sweet to be used as a rice wine vinegar substitute. It would not work for Asian dishes.

Rice Wine vs. Rice Vinegar

Perhaps the easiest way to remember the difference is that rice wine is something you could potentially drink, because it's sweet; rice vinegar would make the sides of your mouth curl in if you drank it straight, as it is too acidic. Use rice wine in dishes where you want to lend sweetness and depth of flavor. Use rice vinegar when you want to add some acidity and a touch of mild sweetness, as in salad dressings and marinades.

How to Use Rice Wine Vinegar to Add Flavor?

Coastal Wine Trail
Coastal Wine Trail

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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Niki Nakayama

Niki Nakayama of two-Michelin-starred n/naka teaches you how to honor fresh ingredients with her innovative take on Japanese home cooking techniques.

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