Recipe Review

You’ll Get a 2-for-1 Treat with This Super-Simple Sweet Rice Wine Recipe

published May 21, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: CC Buckley

Good things come to those who wait, and if there’s ever a case of that, it’s fermented food. The natural process of microorganisms like yeast and bacteria converting carbs into alcohol or acids usually takes days to perfect. 

But we happily wait, as fermenting leaves us with tasty foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi. And as Asian food blogger ms_shi_mr_he shows us on Instagram, fermenting also gives us Chinese sweet fermented rice wine — or jiu niang.

Touted by Ms. Shi’s sweet voice in the post to 135,000 followers as “sweet like dessert,” you can make this tasty fermented wine at home with just three ingredients: water, sweet rice (aka glutinous rice), and yeast.

But as we said, it takes time. The beverage process begins by soaking the rice overnight. If you can’t find “sweet” rice for the wine recipe, no worries — it’s actually the yeast that transforms the starch into glucose, not the rice, so plain white rice is a good sub in a pinch. This is followed by a 45-minute steam in your rice cooker. 

After cooling the rice in a big pot, it’s time to introduce the science with yeast. Chinese wine yeast balls (found at Asian supermarkets or on Amazon) make the magic happen by breaking down the starch over … you guessed it … time. The rice, cold water, and ground yeast sit together in a small sterile container or Dutch oven for two days. But with all the flavor this sweet wine has, we’ll add it to the list of things that are worth the wait. 

Get the full recipe here.