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Best Chinese Wine for Cooking

My soup recipe calls for 2 c. Chinese cooking wine (sic). I'm unclear exactly what that means, but I used what I had in the house. The broth wasn't bad, could have been better, but I'm wondering if a better wine would have made the difference.

I find the wine selection in the sauce aisle of my Asian grocery to be extremely confusing. When I asked for help in choosing a wine last week I was very firmly directed to the display of rice vinegars. So no help there.

What varieties and brands of wine would you recommend for Chinese cooking?

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  1. I've had some given to me and do not remember the name, but it was definitely of drinking quality, tasting almost exactly like a Fino sherry. Your store experience is odd, especially as they apparently do have wine; "cooking" wine is almost always adulterated with salt and stuff to make it undrinkable, so you want a wine you wouldn't mind drinking, assuming you do. Perhaps you should just tell them you're looking for a nice tasty wine and don't even mention cooking. If that fails, hit the wine store and get some Fino or medium-dry sherry.

    1. I use a wine that looks similar to the red one, except I buy the "premium" one, which is about a dollar more.


      1 Reply
      1. re: smtucker

        Shaoxing is what I had, and it was not labelled "cooking wine", nor did it taste like it. It was in a rahther fahncy ceramic bottle shaped like a stylized cat with a blue-jade glaze. I do still have the bottle … it was really very good.

      2. jug of cooking sherry. poor me uses taylor.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chowrin

          Hey - no need to feel "poor" by using "Taylor Dry Sherry". I've been using it for DECADES in all my Asian cooking & the end results have always been top-notch!! :)

        2. I buy Shaoxing at my wine store where I can buy good quality drinking wine and not the adulterated cooking wine sold in most Asian groceries.

          1. Thanks all. The red bottle that smtucker referred to is the one I ran out of and was trying to replace, with no luck. There was sherry in the house, but not enough, unfortunately. The Chinese wine I had in the house was bought by mistake a while back and I avoided using it specifically due to the addition of salt. You see, many years ago I worked for the company that made Holland House "cooking" wines and I darn well know better than to use anything called cooking wine.
            So it looks like I was on the right track in the store and just need to find someone with better English skills to help me find the right bottle.

            1. Look for Pagoda brand Shao Xing rice wine. In NY for example, it is found in Chinese liquor stores. What is found in NY Asian grocery stores is a cheaper, salted version that is not recommended.

              3 Replies
              1. re: scoopG

                And if I lived anyplace that had a Chinese liquor store I would be happy to shop there. :-)

                As it is, I live in NC and am very happy to even have a Chinese supermaket (as opposed to a hole in the wall shop) at all. I have to work with what I have. I'll keep an eye out for Pagoda, though. Maybe I'll get lucky.

                1. re: rockycat

                  Hi rockycat - I could not tell from your profile (nor the OP) where you are from. How far are you from Charlotte or Raleigh? You could check out Grand Asia Market or at least call them. You might also check with your favorite local Chinese restaurant to see if they get it. Otherwise a dry sherry will suffice!


                  1. re: scoopG

                    Aforementioned incident happened at Grand Asia. I went back today and spent a lot of time tracking down one of the young American-born men who works there. He went to look for the shaoxing and couldn't find it either. After more looking, he finally found the shaoxing mis-shelved. "You're not blind," he told me. I hope they replace the other bottles where they belong.

              2. I agree with Shaoxing--from liquor shelves, not cooking shelves. Personally, I do not think even top-notch Shaoxing wine is all that tasty to drink (it's vastly inferior to sake IMO), but it does have an excellent flavor for Chinese cooking.