I find it difficult to source rice wine vinegar for recipes. I can usually find “rice vinegar“, “rice wine”, and “white wine vinegar”, but not specifically “rice wine vinegar”.

Can I use any of the above ingredients, or anything else, as an alternative?

3 Answers 3


Rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar are the same thing, so that's easy.

For additional pantry-stocking:

Seasoned rice vinegar is just rice vinegar with a little salt & sugar added. It's intended to be the right mixture for a number of recipes, not the least of which is sushi rice, although in my experience you're better off seasoning plain rice vinegar to the correct balance.

Rice wine is, of course, sake. Generally if you're cooking with rice wine you want a moderately priced, clear filtered sake like Gekkeikan. The same advice about cooking with regular wine applies here; don't try to cook with anything undrinkable.

Mirin is a specific kind of light, sweet rice wine used in braised dishes, dipping sauces, steamed fish, etc. If you can't find it, buy a drinkable sake and add around two teaspoons of sugar per 1/4 cup of sake.

  • 3
    Rice wine vinegar is not the same thing as rice vinegar. It is the difference between vinegar and white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar. I have been using rice wine vinegar for many, many years and do not know why you can no longer get it at the grocery store, as you once could. They sold both rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar and if you ever tasted them you would know there is a BIG difference.
    – user19641
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 0:03
  • @SharonLogan I'm not sure that's true, but what I do know is that there's a huge variety just among various rice vinegars - that may be what you noticed.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 0:40

First off, I suspect that 'rice wine vinegar' and 'rice vinegar' are the same thing. Secondly, rice wine vinegar comes in two basic kinds, there is a dark vinegar and a white (yellow) vinegar. The dark vinegar has more flavour than the white version. However, both are relatively low in flavour compared to other vinegar alternatives.

To replace a white rice wine vinegar I would suggest using another low flavour vinegar. One with a white colour. In the UK there is a kind of clear vinegar usually labeled as 'non-brewed condiment' which should make an adequate substitute though I'd suggest using a smaller than normal quantity as it is stronger than most other vinegars. Another alternative would be a clear malt vinegar which will be close though not absolutely the same. Again you may need to reduce the quantity to match the strength.

To replace the dark rice wine vinegar is more tricky. My first suggestion is to try a dark malt vinegar as a replacement.

If you want to try to source the real thing, you might not find it in some UK supermarkets. However, almost every large city in the UK has a China town which will contain a Chinese supermarket where you can stock up on any items you might need. Failing that, try asking at your local Chinese restaurant or take-a-way. They might be able to point you to a supplier. Lastly there are online suppliers in the UK if you google you should be able to find one.

  • Good stuff, I was wondering whether “rice vinegar” was pretty much the same thing. I’ve got some of the light rice vinegar, I’ll give that a try first. Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 13:35
  • In terms of replacement, you could also probably try a bit of apple cider vinegar watered down.
    – Martha F.
    Commented Aug 27, 2011 at 16:34

rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar are NOT the same. They taste totally different because Rice Wine Vinegar is made from SAKE, Rice Vinegar is not.


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