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Oct 11, 2010 06:20 PM

Looking for Chinese rice wine for cooking

I can't seem to be able to find Chinese rice wine for cooking anymore - the kind WITHOUT salt. Any ideas ( I am in NDG area)? Thanks -

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  1. The unsalted variety cannot be legally sold in Quebec. A few markets reportedly sell it on an under-the-counter basis. Otherwise, head to Ottawa, Toronto or NYC.

    Here's an earlier thread on the subject:

    1. I have no idea if it's got salt in it but I got my bottle at the shop on the corner of Sherbrooke and Cavendish opposite the Provigo.

      1 Reply
      1. There are many choices from different brands at Marche Hawaii. Brands that are not in large chain grocery stores.

        I am not at home at the moment so i cannot check the ingredients on my bottle... i will try to remember when i get home.

        PS: if you do go to marche Hawaii, don't expect the bottle to say NO SALT! Aside from the french ingredient list sticker, be lucky it says "Rice Wine Vinegar" in english at all!

        4 Replies
        1. re: SourberryLily

          Lily, the OP was asking about rice wine, not rice wine vinegar.

          Posting the name or address of an establishment selling an alcoholic beverage not sanctioned by the SAQ might get the vendor in trouble making the desired product all that much harder to find.

          1. re: eat2much

            Sorry, i thought she meant vinegar. No alcohol sold at Marche Hawaii.

            But just curious, why would you assume it's not sanctioned by the SAQ, right away? Doesn't mean that if it's not sold in SAQ stores, it's illegal.

            I don't really get the warning, because it sort of discourages anybody from answering something other then the SAQ store...

            1. re: SourberryLily

              All drinking wines sold in Quebec, even those sold in grocery stores and dépanneurs, are imported by the SAQ. If the SAQ doesn't handle it, it's not legal. And the SAQ doesn't handle Chinese rice wine.

              There are some stores that sell unsalted rice wine under the table. It's illegal for them to do so and if they were found out (or more likely, if they did so prominently), their stock would be seized, they'd be forced to pay stiff penalties, their licence to sell wine and beer could be suspended or revoked and, though I believe the sanction is limited to repeat offenders, they could be shut down. That's why it's not a good idea to post the names of these stores on a public forum.

              And, BTW, it's Marché Hawaï (one i with a diaeresis). No, I don't know why.

              1. re: carswell

                Well then, it's a lost cause. Can't name the store, and naming the location isn't much better. Chowhound isn't really suppose to be the forum on where to find black market stuff anyways.

                To the OP: perhaps it's easier for you to substitute the product. Not certain about the salt content but pale sherry seems to be a good substitute. Here are links to a chowhound discussion:

                And a website with substitute suggestions, most are repeated in the CH thread:

        2. What are the advantages of unsalted wine for cooking? Most every time I see Shoaxing wine included in a recipe there's always some other source of salt, most often soy sauce, in the recipe as well. Are there that many recipes where the presence of salt is a problem?

          4 Replies
          1. re: SnackHappy

            I've never used the salted wine because, due to the high salt content of soy sauce, bean paste, oyster sauce, etc., I already find my Chinese dishes too salty (though not inedibly so). I'm looking for ways to cut back on the salt, not increase it. The high salt content is compounded by the fact that I, like most Westerners, eat far less steamed rice (which is salt-free) relative to the other dishes in the meal than the Chinese do.

            1. re: carswell

              I guess if you're watching your salt it's something to consider. But the product is only contains 1.5% salt so more or less 170mg of sodium per ounce. That's not a lot considering the amounts used in most recipes.

              1. re: SnackHappy

                I don't know if it helps, but if cutting salt from the rice wine is impossible, cutting salt from the other ingredients is. Soy sauce is sold with less salt, bean paste is a joke to make (and cheaper too!)...

                So if you're backed into a corner and cannot find unsalted rice wine look for alternative solutions!

                1. re: SourberryLily

                  Unfortunately, sodium-reduced soy sauce doesn't taste as good. Most of it I see is Japanese, too, which isn't ideal for Chinese cooking. And considering that a jar of excellent if salty brown bean paste or red bean paste with garlic costs about $3 and lasts me several months, I'm not about to make my own. Ditto oyster sauce, chile-sweet potato sauce, hoisin sauce, XO sauce, etc.

          2. go to the Asian food store on Sherbrooke St W (diagonal to Akahvan) and it is called Shao Hsing Cooking Wine and it has no relevance to drinking wine. chinese cooking wine is used as you would rice wine vinegar or is a condiment not an actual wine which you would drink.

            5 Replies
            1. re: blondee_47

              Whether it's called Shao Hsing or Shaoxing, it's still salted if it's legally sold over the counter. Not what the OP is looking for.

              1. re: blondee_47

                Shaoxing wine may be used in cooking, but it's not a condiment. It's a wine and it's for drinking.


                1. re: SnackHappy

                  It's not always for drinking. There is a cooking quality and a drinking quality. Kind of like our own cooking wines and sherrys.

                  Who would think of drinking a nice big glass of cooking white wine here? yuck.

                  1. re: SourberryLily

                    Dunno about China, but in the west so-called cooking wine is almost always salted. I don't know of any good cooks who use it in preference to regular wine. (Some institutional cooks do because it's much cheaper and can be ordered through wholesale distributors.)

                  2. re: SnackHappy

                    I think I got in at the tail end of a conversation about salt content...I thought the question was where to buy for drinking the wine SnackHappy, altho wiki says it is a wine; I have never heard of using it outside of cooking with it . As for its salt content I haven't an opinion on that but I certainly wouldn't expect to find it at the SAQ or any chinese restaurant for a dinner wine.

                    In fact when I originally looked for it I had a hard time finding it....from the Asian blogs I read it is usually used in cooking and not for consumption as a wine...but I guess each to his/her own likes.