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Rice Vinegar vs. Rice Wine Vinegar: What is the Difference?

Rice Vinegar vs. Rice Wine Vinegar: What is the Difference?

iLoveWine Staff
Black rice vinegar vermicelli and vegetables on the table. Asian cuisine

Rice vinegar and Rice Wine Vinegar… Are they the same?

To someone who isn’t acquainted with either of them, the two sound pretty much like gibberish and could pass off as nothing more than the same thing. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

While they sound like the same thing and are used for the same purposes to the most part, rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar are quite different. And here’s how.

But first things first, lets talk about the similarities.

Similarities in Rice Wine Vinegar and Rice Vinegar

Both rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar are made through fermentation. However, there are completely different processes employed. Not to mention they also have a few disparities when it comes to how they are used too.

Rice Wine Vinegar

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.

What is Rice Wine Vinegar Specifically Useful For?

  • Sushi Rice-

Rice wine vinegar is an essential ingredient for preparing sushi rice.

  • Pickling-

When you’re planning to eat a sandwich for a snack, you can use rice wine vinegar to pickle the cucumbers and vegetables you are going to use in the sandwich.

  • Marinades-

Rice wine vinegar compliments Asian flavor profiles in marinade recipes.

  • Cocktails-

Adding rice wine vinegar to cocktails is a great way of giving them a lift of brightness and a refreshing sense of flavor.

  • French Fries-

Rice wine vinegar can be used to flavor French fries when you want a less punchy flavor.

  • Dipping Sauces-

Rice wine combined with soy sauce creates a delicious dipping sauce for sushi, pot sticker, egg rolls, and chicken.

  • Salad Dressings-

If you want to tone down the acidity of vinaigrettes, rice wine vinegar is the perfect ally.

  • As a Cleaner-

Rice wine vinegar coupled with a few drops of lemon essential oil can be used as a detergent to help clean your whites.

Rice Vinegar

Price- $7.99

Rice vinegar on the hand is vinegar made from fermented rice and used in Japanese and Chinese cuisines. Compared to white distilled vinegar, rice vinegar is less acidic and has a delicately sweet flavor

Marukan Genuine Brewed Rice Vinegar, 12 Ounce Glass Bottle (Pack of 1)
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Marukan Genuine Brewed Rice Vinegar, 12 Ounce Glass Bottle (Pack of 1)
  • Genuine Brewed Rice Vinegar: With depth and richness, this vinegar heightens the flavor of any recipe. Its delicate acidity is versatile and excellent as an addition to Japanese, Chinese, European and...


Types of Rice Vinegar

1. Japanese Rice Vinegar-

The Japanese rice vinegar has a delicate, mild flavor that you can swap into your favorite recipes, salad dressings fruit salads and quick pickles.

2. Seasoned Rice Vinegar-

Seasoned rice vinegar is flavored vinegar that can spice up cooked seafood, steamed vegetables, and chicken.

3. Chinese Rice Vinegar-

Popularly known for its mellow taste, Chinese rice vinegar served alongside crab and shrimp or splashed onto soup to add a little flavor. There are three main types of Chinese rice vinegar. These include:

  • White Chinese Rice Vinegar- It is a light type of vinegar that gives the soup its sour taste.
  • Red Chinese Rice Vinegar- It has a mild acidic taste with a touch of sweetness. It is used as a sauce for dumplings and seafood.
  • Black Chinese Rice Vinegar- This has to be the mellowest in the bunch. It is aged for much longer until it attains a deep, smoky flavor. It’s perfect to go to vinegar for just about any meal you are thinking shrimp and crab legs, soup, dumplings or chopped chives.

Can They Be Used Interchangeably?

While both rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar are made from rice, they are different products and therefore shouldn’t be used interchangeably. If you’re looking for a substitute,

  • apple cider makes a suitable replacement for rice vinegar, whereas,
  • dry white wine or pale dry sherry make good substitutes for rice wine vinegar.

Interesting fact: Alcohol content of rice wine vinegar is about 18-20% ABV.

Wrapping It Up

Although rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar are commonly mistaken to be one and the same thing, there are a few distinct differences that set them apart.  However, they both make for a great seasoning if you want to switch up your food’s flavor a notch.

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