Shaoxing Wine (Hua Diao Wine)
Shaoxing wine (Shao Hsing Jiu, 绍兴酒, 紹興酒) is popularly used in Chinese cooking (South East Asia including Singapore, Malaysia, China and Taiwan). Its name is derived from its city of origin in Shao Xing, China. It’s also known as Hua Diao wine (Hua Tiao Chiew, 花雕酒) which describes the flowery pattern engraved on the jars to store the wine in the past. The wine is fermented from glutinous rice, wheat and water. It is categorised as a type of rice wine (米酒) and yellow wine (黃酒).
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The alcohol content typically ranges from 15-18 percent, lending its distinctive pleasant wine fragrance to countless Chinese dishes. Nowadays, they are commonly sold in glass bottles and can be purchased at local supermarkets and Asian grocery stores. Prices vary according to quality and age of the wine; as a general guide, go for higher grade Chinese wine suitable for drinking and cooking, rather than those which is only suitable for cooking.
The names Shaoxing and Hua Diao are used interchangeably as they are the same type of wine. The bottle above is labelled with both names “紹興花雕酒”. Although it is not exactly the same, you can substitute Shaoxing/Hua Diao wine with any non-fruity dry white wine or Japanese sake. Popular brands in Singapore are Plum Blossom brand (first photo) and Pagoda (second photo).