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We've had a number of questions about Shaoxing wine, including this one. However, I have one that I haven't seen directly addressed either here or on the outside websites I've been able to find:

Is straight dry sherry actually the best substitute for Shaoxing wine? Or would a mix be better?

Details: I live in the US state of Oregon. Due to liquor import restrictions here, I cannot buy real Shaoxing wine; just the awful "cooking" wine. In addition to its low quality, I have to cook for someone on a low-salt diet so salted cooking wine is unacceptable.

The conventional recommendation for replacing Shaoxing wine is pale dry sherry. However, this advice is usually based on the assumption that the asker has no access to Chinese ingredients of any kind. So I'm asking if some mixture of sherry, sake, and/or Chinkiang vinegar might be a better flavor substitute. Since I plan to use this in a sauce where the wine would normally be the majority of the liquid, I'd like to do better if possible.

So, would a mix be a better substitute than straight sherry, and if so, what proportions?

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    Do you have access to mirin? – Keenan Pepper Jan 12 at 2:02
  • Yes. Or I can make it from sake. – FuzzyChef Jan 12 at 2:25
  • Why would you expect the best substitute to be "something Chinese"? – Sneftel Feb 19 at 12:49
  • Sneftel: I don't understand why you're asking that question, since you're not quoting me. – FuzzyChef Feb 19 at 20:15
  • The ingredients you suggested were Asian, but taste nothing like shaoxing wine. Why would a Chinese food store have a better substitute for shaoxing wine than a liquor store? Chinese cuisine doesn't need a substitute; it has shaoxing wine. – Sneftel Feb 20 at 9:30
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I think mirin is going to be sweeter than shaoxing wine. This link however has much more information about shaoxing wine, and they say that a Japanese sake, sherry, or even a white wine could be substituted depending on context.

This is outside the scope of the question, but have you checked Uwajimaya?

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  • Yes, I have checked there. The problem is that Shaoxing isn't on the "Oregon List", which means that it's illegal to import into the state of Oregon. – FuzzyChef Feb 19 at 20:13

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