Rice wine is a rich-flavored liquid that is made from fermented glutinous rice or millet. Aged for ten years or more, rice wine is used both in drinking and cooking (the rice wine used for cooking has a lower alcohol content).
Since ancient times, the best and most famous rice wines have come from Shaoxing in the Zheijang province. In cooking, rice wine is frequently used in sauces to add flavor, and as the acidic ingredient in marinades.
Finding quality rice wine to drink is very difficult in North America. Rice wine that is suitable for cooking can be found at Asian supermarkets and grocery stores. Look for rice wines with an alcohol content of 17.5 percent. If unavailable, a good quality pale dry sherry makes an acceptable substitute. Dry sherry is preferable to sake (the Japanese rice wine) which has a sweeter flavor than Chinese rice wines.
Store rice wine at room temperature, preferably out of the light.