Rice Wine vs. White Wine: What Is the Difference? (Explained)

Rice wine and white wine share several similarities. Thus, when it comes to using, you may wonder about the differences between the two. Such an answer is essential for everyone who wants to use either of the two in their recipes. So, you may ask: What is the difference between rice wine and white wine?

Rice wine and white wine are different in their manufacturing process, flavor, purpose, and slightly in appearance. Further, you’ll find other differences in nutrition and alcohol content. Still, white wine can be a great alternative to rice wine, although it doesn’t work the same on the other end.

People who often wonder about the differences between the two are planning on replacing one over the other. Whether it’s for cooking or drinking purposes, understanding this matter is essential so you can know what to expect. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through these differences and help you understand how you can change your recipe and drinks if you interchange white wine and rice wine. Further, this idea will help you if you need to add or reduce things to your preferred taste.

Without further ado, let’s get into it! 

Rice Wine vs. White WinePin

Is rice wine the same as white wine?

No, rice wine is not the same as white wine. Although both these spirits are considered wine, rice wine isn’t exactly wine if you consider its manufacturing process.

For instance, one of the first differences between the two lies with their main ingredient. While white wine comes from fermented fruit, particularly green and yellow grapes, rice wine comes from glutinous rice. 

Thus, you can tell exactly which one is rice wine and which one is white wine if you compare them side by side. Also, you can tell the difference between the two in other aspects.

In general, the manufacturing process, flavor, taste, and uses of both wines differ from each other. Still, like all other wines, both can be used for drinking and cooking purposes.

Another difference is that rice wine is widely used for cooking while white wine is widely used for drinking. However, both can be used alternately, and white wine can even be a replacement if you have no rice wine.

To help you understand better, you should read more about each of these wines.

What is rice wine?

Rice wine is a typical liquor that you may consume and cook with most of the time. It is known as sake in Japan and is the country’s national beverage. Mirin from Japan and Huangjiu from China are two more varieties used in cooking.

To generate alcohol, you should ferment rice starches with yeast, fungus, and lactic acid bacteria. For example, Aspergillus oryzae, a mold, transforms starches into sugars, while Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a yeast, creates alcohol.

What is white wine?

White wine is a spirit produced through the fermentation of grapes. However, the white appearance comes from fermenting grapes without the skin and seeds. In most cases, white wine uses green or yellow grapes. 

This wine is often served as a drink. You can enjoy it as an appetizer before the main course or as part of the dessert in most restaurants. Also, you can enjoy it as a refreshing liquor served between courses.

If you compare it with red wine, white wine comes as a lighter drink in both flavor and style. However, the main similarity between rice wine is that you can also use this drink to soften meat and deglaze your sauce or liquid in recipes. Such a function comes from its acidity and fragrance.

What is the difference between rice wine and white wine?

The difference between rice wine and white wine is noticeable in many aspects. Let’s look at each one for you to understand how they differ from each other.

Rice wine vs. white wine taste and flavor

The taste and flavor of both rice wine and white wine are different from each other. For instance, while both wines have a light taste, white wine is fruity, while rice wine gets a neutral but sweet taste.

Further, rice wine has more alcoholic punch than white wine, especially when you drink both to compare. When you put both wines side by side, you can see rice wine having a clear appearance like water, while white wine has a yellow color.

Still, you’ll find white wine an ideal replacement for rice wine if necessary. Although you need some slight adjustments if you want to keep the original recipe.

Rice wine vs. white wine alcohol content

In general, rice wine has more alcohol content than white wine. Rice wine generally comes with around 18-25% ABV, while white wine comes with around 5-14% ABV.

Of course, the alcohol content will vary on rice and white wine brand and type. However, you’ll usually find rice wine more alcoholic than white wine.

Rice wine vs. white wine uses

Rice wine is more of a cooking condiment, while white wine is more of a drink to enjoy when it comes to purpose or use. Still, you can use both wines for cooking and drinking.

Rice wine is both a culinary ingredient and a popular alcoholic drink. As a condiment, it is typically added straight to foods or into marinades or sauces. Most Asian nations produce their own wine. 

While branded “wine,” rice wine is more akin to beer in that it is made from fermented rice or grains, as are most beer variants. As a result, it contains gluten. It is commonly distributed across South and East Asia in a variety of recipes and beverages.

White wines are frequently served as an aperitif before a meal, with sweets or refreshments between courses. In addition, white wines are commonly regarded as more pleasant and softer in both style and flavor than the bulk of their red wine equivalents. 

Furthermore, white wines are frequently used in cooking owing to their acidity, scent, and capacity to tenderize the meat and deglaze sauces and broth.

Rice wine vs. white wine calories and nutrition

When it comes to calories, rice wine provides more with 134 calories for every 100 grams, while white wine offers 82 calories for every 100 grams.

Both rice wine and white wine gives distinct nutritional benefits. Still, if used for cooking, both wines will not make so much of a difference in nutrition since you’ll only need small amounts.

Can I substitute white wine with rice wine?

Yes, you can substitute white wine with rice wine. For example, if you’re using rice wine for cooking, you can replace it with white wine. However, you may feel a big difference if you’re drinking it.

While the flavor is not the same, a dry white wine makes an acceptable substitute for Chinese rice wine in marinades. Moreover, it is a decent alternative when that’s all you have in the house.

Can I substitute rice wine with white wine?

Yes, you can substitute rice wine with white wine, although the difference may be noticeable if you’re drinking it and not cooking.

When cooking, a rice wine will give your food a more alcoholic but neutral flavor than white wine. However, it’s not that noticeable since you’re likely going to need only a tiny amount.

On the other hand, rice wine can be more alcoholic and doesn’t give a fruity taste, unlike white wine. Thus, if you’re replacing white wine with rice wine for drinking, you’ll undoubtedly see the difference.

How is a rice wine made compared to white wine?

Rice wine and white wine are made through fermentation. However, they differ in terms of the main ingredient. For instance, rice wine uses glutinous rice, while white wine uses fruits (mainly yellow and green grapes).

Thus, you’ll notice the taste and flavor of both wines are different from each other. Further, the alcohol content of rice wine is higher than white wine. Thus, it offers more punch due to the manufacturing process of rice wine.


In a nutshell, rice wine and white wine differs in several aspects. However, the main difference lies in the main ingredient. White wine uses fruits (mainly grapes), while rice wine uses glutinous rice. 

While both wines are light in flavor, you can tell the difference between both in their appearance, flavor, and taste. Still, when it comes to cooking, both wines can replace one another without much difference. However, you’ll find both different in flavor and taste when drinking, so expect a bit of change if you consume it directly.



Image credits – Canva

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