Chinese Rice Wine for Drinking

I’m preparing drunken chicken, so I need a rice wine that’s meant for drinking, not cooking. Can anyone suggest a store in the SFBA East Bay?

Thanks for your help.

The shop is less important than the bottle. As long as the shaoshing does not contain salt . . . not that you can always rely on the label (Taiwan before PRC?) . . . a reliable dry sherry works according to a very skilled home cook we know, but you are in California so you needn’t go that direction.

This is a post from Andrea Nguyen. the one on the right is stocked by 99 Ranch Mt View, so its likely available in other 99 Ranches. I believe you can get 8 year, 10 year, 15 year Gu Yue Long Shan 古越龍山 huadiao online for sure. Though someone may know whether places in Oakland Chinatown stocks them. 10, 15 year is a bit overkill for chicken though.

@Bapa, are you using Fuschsia Dunlop’s recipe in Land of Fish and Rice? She calls for Shoaxing Huadiao wine, which is the one pictured on the right of Andrea Nguyen’s photo. I was happy using it for Caroline Phillips’ recipe for drunken chicken, less so for Dongpo pork.

This is what I use, it tastes very much like sherry; I can see why the substitution works.

Recommended by Lucky Peach, so that’s what I bought. It’s definitely sippable.

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Yes–her new book gave me the idea. The little grocery stores in my neighborhood (Oakland Chinatown) only carry the Shaoxing wines with added salt. They’re fine for most cooking jobs, but not this one, I think. I’ll look for the Huadiao (花雕; kind of a funny phrase).

Thanks for the lead.

That’s a bummer that there’s not more available in Oakland Chinatown! If you don’t plan to drive to 99 Ranch, calling Berkeley Bowl would be worth a shot.

I just took a swig of the blue bottle one. Hmmm… that tastes better than the cheapy red label one I used to cook with, but @bookwich’s recommendation is probably better :slight_smile:

Please let us know how your dishes come out! I just started a post about Land of Fish and Rice. I hope to cook some of her fresh fava bean and celtuce recipes before they disappear from the markets.

Just outside of Oakland Chinatown at 12th St and 5th Ave Sun Hop Fat usually carries some drinking rice wines, though the selection varies and is inconsistent. I’ve seen one like that pictured by Bookwich there before, and always see it at 99 Ranch. Last time I was at Sun Hop Fat I picked up a Shaanxi Zhuhuan black rice wine. I also picked up some yeast cakes for fermenting my own rice wines (including red yeast rice wine) there, but haven’t gotten to it yet.

Berkeley Bowl has really upped their game recently with their selection of Japanese pantry ingredients. I picked up a Sendai miso that I find completely addictive. I also like the special brewed shoyu I picked up, and was tempted by a couple of their higher grade mirins. I wish I could find a place with similar selection of higher-end Chinese ingredients, since I’m not a Chinese grandma, and don’t know how to demand, or even identify the good stuff.

Thanks for the suggestion. I bought a bottle of hua diao yesterday there, but haven’t tasted it yet. There was a bottle like the one in the photo–I suppose it’s meant to mimic a hulu, the good luck gourd. I don’t know why I didn’t buy it–I will next time.

Marina in Cupertino (and likely other branches also) is a good source of shaoxiao/ huadiao wines. I saw a number of mid-range and upper-end products on a recent visit that I don’t see in the 99 Ranch Mountain View store.

Pagoda: 18 year Huadiao $32.99 / 500ml

Kuai Ji Shan: 20 year Shaoxing $36.99 / 500 ml

Pagoda: 20 year Shaoxing $22.99 / 500 ml

Pagoda: 10 year Shaoxing $13.99-$15.99 / 500 ml

Pagoda: 8 year Huadiao $4.99? in glass bottle

Some drunken chicken was made with the last bottle. Quite enjoyable the bitter complexity.

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The wine does make a huge difference in how the drunken chicken turns out. Our latest batch using the Pagoda brand 10 year huadiao was much more successful than the previous ~$3 bottles. Much smoother and less harsh wine taste. I just bought 4 bottles to further experiment. A 20 year Pagoda bottle (yellow box) that is cheaper than the $3x a bottle Pagoda and Kauai Ji Shan) and 3 8 year bottles between $5 and $6.

I have come to appreciate Marina Cupertino’s relatively extensive Chinese wine collection. Its not China, but for overseas, its not bad.

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