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Shaoxing Wine


liuzhou
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There have been Shaoxing topics before, but all seem to be specific to particular regions and problems – Buying Shaoxing in Canada or How to Buy Salt-Free Shaoxing in the USA etc.

 

I feel there is a place for a more general topic discussing types, brands and uses etc. If the powers that be disagree, no doubt it will be moved or merged or …

 

Some basics for those who don’t know.

 

Shaoxing (绍兴(酒)  / 紹興(酒) -shào xīng (jiǔ)) (the alternative spelling ShaoHsing is outdated and never used in China), a prized type of 黄酒 (huáng jiǔ, literally ‘yellow wine’ – glutinous rice wine) has been made in, wait for it, Shaoxing, a relatively small city in Zhejiang province, Eastern China, south of Shanghai for over 2,000 years. Ingredients should be simply water, rice, and wheat. Never salt outside North America  where salt is added to get round licensing rules. It is used extensively as a 料酒 (liào jiǔ – literally, ‘ingredient wine’ – Cooking Wine) but is also drunk, depending on grade.

 

57655219_3-YearOldBottledShaoxing.thumb.jpg.e00c8c350a247af3f13c1d2c95068c0f.jpg

3-Year old cooking grade Shaoxing

 

Most Shaoxing sold in supermarkets is the 3-year old basic stuff intended for cooking. Higher quality wines intended primarily for drinking are labelled 花雕 (huā diāo, meaning flower carved, as this grade is often sold in carved jars). These can be any age between 8 to 20 years and beyond. They are also used in certain dishes where the wine is a key element rather than just another marinade ingredient.

 

1104512617_15years.thumb.jpg.d41ad3221fc10421bd1e71b5911053a2.jpg

15-year old Huadio drinking grade

 

 

Two special wines are labelled 加饭 / 加飯 (jiā fàn, meaning ‘added rice’) for a richer taste and 女儿红 / 女兒紅 (literally ‘daughter red’), so-called after the practice of laying a bottle down on the birth of a daughter then opening it at her wedding feast. Red is China’s luckiest colour and a symbol of marriage.

 

397816297_3years.thumb.jpg.3be66cd4edf12353538bb4b52b86aab3.jpg

Daughter Red - 3-  Years Old.

 

Note: Where I give two versions of the Chinese names, the first is in Simplified characters as used in mainland China (including Shaoxing) and the second in Traditional characters as still used in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as much of the Chinese diasphora. Either may appear on bottles or jars. If I only give one version, that means they are the same everywhere.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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The age of any Shaoxing is normally given in Chinese. Here are the numbers for the most common ages:

 

3 years   - 三年

5 years   - 五年

8 years   - 八年

12 years - 十二年

15 years - 十五年

20 years - 二十年

 

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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8 hours ago, FauxPas said:

Here's the one I bought recently at the provincial liquor store. Can you tell me anything about it? This one is supposed to be 8 years aged, they also have 5 and 20. 

 

PXL_20221010_033330827.thumb.jpg.b7810b8fed93b68b5856e0feff6b97a1.jpg

That should be a good one in the  'added rice' style. The winery is Shaoxing's largest, much of their oputput being exported. 8 years old as you say. My only reservation is that they have added caramel coloring (last ingredient listed at the bottom of the label). The best only has water, glutinous rice and wheat as I noted. These are the first three listed on your bottle.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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When it comes to drinking  Shaoxing, many internet sources insist that it is drunk warm. Not always. From the manufacturers of the first bottles above.

 

Quote

Shaoxing wine can be drunk at room temperature, while in winter, it could be bettter to warm it up before drinking and ice it or add some ice cubes in summer before drinking.

 

In other words, do what you like!

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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2 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Note: Where I give two versions of the Chinese names, the first is in Simplified characters as used in mainland China (including Shaoxing) and the second in Traditional characters as still used in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as much of the Chinese diasphora. Either may appear on bottles or jars. If I only give one version, that means they are the same everywhere.

 


This note is SO helpful -- thank you! I always wondered.  

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Wow it appears to be (sometimes) available finally in Ontario liquor stores!  In 250 mL bottles!

CA1271D3-A5D7-4C00-B7F4-B45C6FE86708.thumb.png.0a199e7b3aa16da65f885a82949d94bc.png

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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25 minutes ago, Anna N said:

Wow it appears to be (sometimes) available finally in Ontario liquor stores!  In 250 mL bottles!

CA1271D3-A5D7-4C00-B7F4-B45C6FE86708.thumb.png.0a199e7b3aa16da65f885a82949d94bc.png

 

While that is glutinous rice wine, I'm not sure that it is Shaoxing. Shaoxing always says so - 绍兴 or 紹興. The large characters (糯米酒) on that bottle just say 'glutinous rice wine'.  Most strange. It may say Shaoxing in the small print, but I can't make it out in that image.

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1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

It may say Shaoxing in the small print, but I can't make it out in that image.

Thank you very much.
I tried searching on Shaoxing but got no hits. I tried searching on China and got many results including bottles costing $600+! Most of them were out of stock or unavailable and did not seem to be rice wine but rather vodkas and Chinese red wine. Or undetermined29FC086C-41A7-42EA-AB44-7F236513C661.thumb.png.5510ef55beff5ab4e202ffaa04623460.png


I have no idea what this is. 
This is not a very useful website. 

We have a thriving community of Chinese and a well-known Chinatown so it’s quite surprising that one cannot find Shaoxing. And yet it isn’t! Our government run liquor store writes its own rules.

 

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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26 minutes ago, Anna N said:

Thank you very much.
I tried searching on Shaoxing but got no hits. I tried searching on China and got many results including bottles costing $600+! Most of them were out of stock or unavailable and did not seem to be rice wine but rather vodkas and Chinese red wine. Or undetermined29FC086C-41A7-42EA-AB44-7F236513C661.thumb.png.5510ef55beff5ab4e202ffaa04623460.png


I have no idea what this is. 
This is not a very useful website. 

We have a thriving community of Chinese and a well-known Chinatown so it’s quite surprising that one cannot find Shaoxing. And yet it isn’t! Our government run liquor store writes its own rules.

 

 

That is not wine, but a very strong spirit / liquor. China's most famous, served at state banquets. Disgusting stuff.

There is a huge translation problem with the Chinese character (jiǔ). It really means alcohol, but is often mistranslated as wine, although sometimes wine is correct! I do a lot of work with the wine and drinks press and we always tie ourselves in knots trying to translate some names.
The Moutai in that picture is a type of 白酒 (bái jiǔ), and is a strong white liquor from Guizhou province, made from sorgum but often described as 'white wine'. You don't want to be putting that in your dinner!

And, yes, 白酒 (bái jiǔ) can get very expensive, although the cheapest is almost free. I have one bottle which sells at $2,306 CAD, although it is a limited edition and contains 1.8  litres. No, I didn't buy it. It was a gift from a client. I can't stand the stuff!

 

The earlier picture you posted is rice wine but I have no knowledge of the quality.

Even beer is a (jiǔ) - 啤酒 (pí jiǔ) and grape wine is 葡萄酒 (pú tao jiǔ), literally grape alcohol. There are many more.

It's enough to drive anyone to drink!

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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7 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

It's enough to drive anyone to drink!

And that’s exactly what I’m doing at this ungodly hour in the morning! A Danish coffee. Thank you for all your help. 

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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22 minutes ago, Anna N said:

And that’s exactly what I’m doing at this ungodly hour in the morning! A Danish coffee. Thank you for all your help. 

 

If desperation sets in you could try this. 56% by volume 白酒 (bái jiǔ). Smells like vomit before you drink it. Only about 2 cents a small bottle. Appropriately named.

 

bomb.thumb.jpg.191f8c258a1c506f5b9590a23cc7ac92.jpg

 

 

Stick to Shaoxing, once you track it down. It's  the only Chinese drink I touch other than beer.
 

By the way, I mentioned 加饭 (jiā fàn, meaning added rice) in the first post. That first character (jiā) is also an abbreviation for Canada! The things you learn on eG!

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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According to Wikinonsense

 

Quote

Aged wines are referred to by year of brewing, similar to grape vintage year (chénnián, 陳年).

 

I have never, ever seen a bottle of Shaoxing with a vintage year marked as with grape wines. They all simply give the fermentation times as listed in my second post above.

 

Also Shaoxing wine is one type of 黄酒 (huáng jiǔ). 黄酒 and Shaoxing are not synonyms as implied.

 

All in all, the wiki article is pretty piss-poor.

 

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Here are the other two offerings at the government stores. I should check one of the speciality private stores also when I am over that way. 

 

This one (Tapaijiu) is not inexpensive! ($167 Cdn) The store description says "Amber coloured, this traditional shaoxing rice wine (huadiao) has been stored in a ceramic jar and aged for 20 years. It has an aromatic and pleasantly nutty taste." It looks like it is still "Pagoda Brand".  I find it difficult to see the characters at the bottom of the box, not sure if @liuzhoucan? 

 

23768.jpg

 

And this one, 5 year old. SHAOXING NUERHONG BREWING 

 

561530.jpg

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I have 2 bottles.  This first one made me laugh when I read the label as it's from Taiwan - clearly not the real deal but I've been cooking with it.  

7EC67B65-0B1D-4924-9CE9-E9540F453EF4_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.c55111bc1b69aee7d4ef76debc69794a.jpeg

 

The second one is actually from Zhejiang province.

88646F80-9ABE-4CAF-ACBB-42AD49AEFA3E_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.2ee88e33d51da5c6cedb6c7724e52503.jpeg

It's made by the same company as the one that @FauxPas purchased at her provincial liquor store and also carries the Pagoda brand.  It has characters that @liuzhou mentions:88646F80-9ABE-4CAF-ACBB-42AD49AEFA3E_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.2ee88e33d51da5c6cedb6c7724e52503.jpeg

16 hours ago, liuzhou said:

女兒紅

and they appear both on the paper label and also on the in the ceramic design on the other side of the bottle.  

1790C52E-39E0-4ECE-8D7F-E4742AA215BA_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.6d315ebe8c935ae29d9cd4cc1f6cda0f.jpeg

 

24529C3A-92F4-47B8-9F0B-418959A9E002_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.9845435e75dc929268bf9df098660d92.jpeg

 

The cork was secured with red ribbons like some of the earlier photos.  It was a gift.  I'll have to look around more carefully on my next visits to the Chinese grocery.  Here in CA, wine and liquor are sold in grocery stores so I'd think it should be possible to get something without salt added, possibly at a higher price to cover the taxes. 

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7 hours ago, blue_dolphin said:

I have 2 bottles.  This first one made me laugh when I read the label as it's from Taiwan - clearly not the real deal but I've been cooking with it.  

7EC67B65-0B1D-4924-9CE9-E9540F453EF4_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.c55111bc1b69aee7d4ef76debc69794a.jpeg

 

The second one is actually from Zhejiang province.

88646F80-9ABE-4CAF-ACBB-42AD49AEFA3E_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.2ee88e33d51da5c6cedb6c7724e52503.jpeg

It's made by the same company as the one that @FauxPas purchased at her provincial liquor store and also carries the Pagoda brand.  It has characters that @liuzhou mentions:88646F80-9ABE-4CAF-ACBB-42AD49AEFA3E_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.2ee88e33d51da5c6cedb6c7724e52503.jpeg

and they appear both on the paper label and also on the in the ceramic design on the other side of the bottle.  

1790C52E-39E0-4ECE-8D7F-E4742AA215BA_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.6d315ebe8c935ae29d9cd4cc1f6cda0f.jpeg

 

24529C3A-92F4-47B8-9F0B-418959A9E002_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.9845435e75dc929268bf9df098660d92.jpeg

 

The cork was secured with red ribbons like some of the earlier photos.  It was a gift.  I'll have to look around more carefully on my next visits to the Chinese grocery.  Here in CA, wine and liquor are sold in grocery stores so I'd think it should be possible to get something without salt added, possibly at a higher price to cover the taxes. 

 

 

Your second one is the real deal - ‘daughter red’ . Does it give any indication of age anywhere? As in my second post? I'm not surprised you have the same brand as @liamsaunt. They are Shaoxing's largest company and also most active in exports. About 15% of their output is exported.

 

The less said about the Taiwanese fake, the better. It may taste OK, but it ain't the real deal.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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So once you've sorted out your Shaoxing according to taste or budget what do you do with it. I use it in almost every meal I cook. A tablespoon or so (I always eyeball it) in marinades is de rigeur. I always use it to deglaze the wok. And sometimes in dips.

 

It is also used in larger quantities in certain dishes, a subject I shall return to.

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17 hours ago, FauxPas said:

Here are the other two offerings at the government stores. I should check one of the speciality private stores also when I am over that way. 

 

This one (Tapaijiu) is not inexpensive! ($167 Cdn) The store description says "Amber coloured, this traditional shaoxing rice wine (huadiao) has been stored in a ceramic jar and aged for 20 years. It has an aromatic and pleasantly nutty taste." It looks like it is still "Pagoda Brand".  I find it difficult to see the characters at the bottom of the box, not sure if @liuzhoucan? 

 

23768.jpg

 

And this one, 5 year old. SHAOXING NUERHONG BREWING 

 

561530.jpg

 

Yes, the first is Pagoda brand. I can't entirely make out the writing at the bottom, but it appears just to be the company information. They make a point of stating that it is 'hand made' (the first two characters reading down) which is typical of that company. A good drinking quality Shaoxing.

 

Your jade coloured jar is typical of nu'erhong style. Does it give the age anywhere? It is made by my favourite Shaoxing supplier (all nu'erhong is), Gu Yue Long Shan. There is an introduction to the company here.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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There is a great article here on the history of the Nu Er Hong brand, now owned by China Shaoxing Yellow Rice Wine Group Co., Ltd and the one man who made it all possible.

 

721475636_neerhong.thumb.jpg.611f7b96dfd4d9f6b01a18a134b00e2c.jpg

 

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Most dishes containing Shaoxing wine only have about a tablespoon of the wine in a marinade, or even just a splash to deglaze the wok and add a bit of flavour.

 

However there are two classes of dish which use much larger quantities of the wine - up to 2½ cups or 250 ml per serving. These are the "drunken" dishes and the "hong shao" dishes. Often said to be of Shanghai cuisine they are certainly popular there, but also in a wider area. What they have in common is Shaoxing wine.

 

These are examples of when you really need to splash out on a good 5 year minimum huadiao wine to do justice to the dish. I use an 8-year old. Your cheap every day Shaoxing isn't going to work well.

The classic "drunken" dish is "drunken chicken" or 醉鸡 (zuì jī), a cold appetizer. However, there are almost endless variations such as drunken fish, drunken shrimp, drunken tofu etc. The drunken chicken is simply cooked in boiling Shaoxing wine for a few minutes, then the heat is turned off and the bird left in the hot liquid until cooked through. There are many recipes on the internet, but I can't really recommend any that I have read. I suggest Fuchsia Dunlop's recipe in Land of Fish and Rice (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) is your best bet.

 

1872062589_drunkenchicken.thumb.jpg.f8c4d5d3e0c59514c7ed71a995fcb4ad.jpg

Drunken Chicken

 

The second group are 红烧 (hóng shāo), literally red-cooked. Again pretty much everything can be red-cooked, which means simmering in a stock coloured with soy sauce. The peak of inventiveness in this group is 东坡肉 (dōng pō ròu) from Hangzhou near  Shaoxing. 2 inch cubes of fatty pork belly with skin are fried, then red cooked for about 2½ hours in a mixture of soy sauces and a copious amount of quality Shaoxing wine. The resulting dish is rich and unctious. This dish is best made the  day before eating and left overnight to chill. Remove the fat on top of the chilled meat. Again I recommend Ms. Dunlop's book rather than the internet.

 

2067251188_dongpopork.thumb.jpg.8c2582b9ca41688b25cea58b8a6f5633.jpg

Dongpo Pork



There are other dishes using Shaoxing in large amounts, but these are the two classics.

 

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12 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Your jade coloured jar is typical of nu'erhong style. Does it give the age anywhere? It is made by my favourite Shaoxing supplier (all nu'erhong is), Gu Yue Long Shan.

 

yes, they say it is aged 5 years. 

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Mentioning 8-year old Huadiao when posting about dishes which use it reminded me that I was out of the stuff. So, all day a jar has been  winging its way from Shaoxing to my kitchen!

 

2083948648_Shaoxing-Liuzhou.thumb.jpg.5c3a5b070236f6634970866b98f6c1f2.jpg

 

It arrived at my door about half an hour ago.

 

1689949590_8-YearHuadiao.thumb.jpg.7f428a2a427828c0737be79b76cab2be.jpg

 

8-Years.thumb.jpg.7acc9a914eb9f3eab51fd15e052d24c4.jpg

 

delivered.thumb.jpg.e96aaf13860b3aafc1289e81eb4c05af.jpg

 

Normal service can be resumed.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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