What is Chinese Yellow Rice Wine (Huang Jiu)

Forget beer and wine made from grapes. Bloomberg recently published an article that the growth of the booze market in China is slowing done. The demand for beer is even in decline. However, there’s one bright spot in the industry: traditional Chinese Yellow Rice wine, known in China as ‘Huang Jiu’.

Together with beer and red wine, huang Jiu is considered as 1 of the 3 biggest traditional liquors by the Chinese.

What about White Rice Wine (Bai Jiu)?

The market for white rice wine (Bai Jiu) is still much larger than yellow rice wine. Bai jiu is expensive and popular among Chinese generals and government officials, but China is cracking down on corruption and extravagance since 2014, resulting in lower demand.

Huang jiu on the other hand is seeing a strong growth. Chinese people have enjoyed strong economic growth in the past decade and as a result consuming more imported Western goods. However, many Chinese are also rediscovering their own background and rediscover traditional Chinese food and beverages.

Why Is Yellow Rice Wine Popular?

Different from white rice wine, the yellow cousin contains much less alcohol making it more suitable for a larger crowd. In addition, it’s highly nutritious containing 18 kinds of amino acids. A wine with so much nutritional value is what makes it attract a growing crowd.

How Is Yellow Rice Wine Made?

Yellow rice wine is brewed directly from rice. Sometimes millet or wheat could also be used as an alternative to rice. Unlike white rice wine, it’s not distilled and contains not more than 20% alcohol due to the inhibition of fermentation by ethanol at that concentration.

Yellow wine is pasteurised, aged, and filtered before they are finally bottled and sold. Depending on the variation in production, the final color could range from beige to reddish brown. Yellow wine is mainly classified by production regions, each with their own variation of production methods. See below the list:

  • 山东即墨老酒 – Shāndōng jímò lǎojiǔ
  • 江西吉安固江冬酒 – jiāngxi jí’ān gù jiāng dōng jiǔ
  • 无锡惠泉酒 – wúxī huì quán jiǔ
  • 绍兴状元红 – shàoxīng zhuàngyuán hóng
  • 绍兴女儿红 – shàoxīng nǚ’ér hóng
  • 张家港的沙洲优黄 – zhāngjiāgǎng de shāzhōu yōu huáng
  • 吴江的吴宫老酒 – wújiāng de wú gōng lǎojiǔ
  • 百花漾等桃源黄酒 – bǎihuā yàng děng táoyuán huángjiǔ
  • 上海老酒 – shànghǎi lǎojiǔ
  • 鹤壁豫鹤双黄 – hèbì yù hè shuāng huáng
  • 福建闽安老酒 – fújiàn mǐn ān lǎojiǔ
  • 江西九江封缸酒 – jiāngxi jiǔjiāng fēng gāng jiǔ
  • 江苏白蒲黄酒 – jiāngsū bái pú huángjiǔ
  • 江苏金坛和丹阳的封缸酒 – jiāngsū jīn tán hé dānyáng de fēng gāng jiǔ
  • 河南双黄酒 – hénán shuāng huángjiǔ
  • 广东客家娘酒 – guǎngdōng kèjiā niang jiǔ
  • 张家口北宗黄酒和绍兴加饭酒 – zhāngjiākǒu běi zōng huángjiǔ hé shàoxīng jiā fàn jiǔ
  • 广东珍珠红酒 – guǎngdōng zhēnzhū hóngjiǔ

Besides the region yellow wine is also classified as: dry, half dry, half sweet, sweet.

making yellow rice wine

How is Huang Jiu Consumed?

Huangjiu mainly consumed in Mainland China and Taiwan and consumed in different ways.

Warming Yellow Wine

While drinking yellow wine cold is still the most popular way to go, the traditional way of drinking yellow wine is actually by warming it until a perfect temperature of 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit). Drinking the wine warm is considered healthy for the stomach.

The older generations often drink the wine from a bowl instead of a glass or cup.

Enjoying yellow rice wine with food.
Enjoying yellow rice wine with food.

Drinking Yellow Wine Cold

Among younger people in China, Yellow wine is often drank cold. The wine is first refrigerated and then served with ice. Sometimes fresh fruits are added for additional taste.

Yellow Wine Pairing with Food

The Chinese love to pair yellow wine with dishes. Dry wines are paired with vegetables and cold appetizers. Semi-dry types are paired with red meat, crab and other seafood. Half-sweet types are paired with chicken and duck. At last, sweet-types are paired with desserts.

Yellow Wine for Cooking

In some regions Huang Jiu is also used for cooking traditional Chinese dishes. Popular dishes include huang jiu chicken soup and huang jiu steamed crab.

yellow wine jars