Real Chinese Rice Wine

Christopher Hirsheimer

Experienced cooks never cook with a wine they wouldn't drink, an adage that applies across all cuisines. When preparing a Chinese meal, look for real Chinese rice wine—which is richer and darker than sake, rather like a dry sherry—and not the "cooking wine" that's sold in Asian markets, which is dosed with salt so that it qualifies as a food product, not a wine. Buy the real thing in liquor stores, especially in Chinatowns. We like Nuehong, bottled in jade-colored ceramic jugs. Aged Hau Tiao is good, too—and the younger, less complex Pagoda Brand Shao Xing Rice Wine is just fine.