Learn about rice fermentation and how to make a delicious wine from it

White rice has been a staple crop for over 4,000 years in China and its cultivation has expanded all over the world ever since. It is one of the most consumed grains with only wheat and corn being produced in similar quantities. Mostly in the East, rice is eaten as a basis for any dish, its flour is also used and even skincare products can be made from it. Nowadays, it is safe to say that rice is a staple food worldwide, with almost half of the world’s population subsisting on it.

When we think about rice consumption or how to make white rice, many recipes come to our minds. Fried rice, for example, is one of the most common ways of consuming it: heat up some oil on a pan, leftover rice with seasonings,  scallions, red bell peppers and eggs and you’ll have a fulfilling dinner with lots of flavors. Also, you can cook this grain with milk, sugar and vanilla beans and you’ll have an amazing sweet pudding that acts as a perfect dessert, ideal for you to bring to a family or friend’s gathering.  But, believe it or not, rice has many other uses besides making incredible dishes… Did you know that rice can also be great to make wine?

Keep reading and you’ll see!

What exactly is rice wine?

Let’s begin by saying that rice starch ferments when combined with the proper yeast, giving an alcoholic mixture that can be distilled to obtain a white wine-like beverage.

There is a common misunderstanding between rice wine and rice vinegar. Both are made from fermented rice, but the main difference is the way in which they are produced. Rice wine is made with glutinous rice fermented by the same yeast used for making beer, known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, that transforms sugars into alcohol. While rice vinegar is obtained using Mycoderma aceti, a compound that breaks sugars first into alcohol and later into acid.

According to the country of production, rice wine is known with different names:

Japanese people call it Sake, the Chinese community tends to call it Huang Jiu, Koreans Cheongju and in the Philippines, rice wine is called Tapuy.

In its origins, rice wine production was exclusive to the imperial court and religious shrines, but after the twelfth century, the brewing of this grain began to spread all over Japan.

As you may imagine, in its beginning, rice wine production was relatively small because it was only affordable to noble class people. But as rice consumption arose, so did the consumption of wine.

Although it takes a considerable time, you can make your own rice wine at home. Since this is a slow process, you’ll be able to get to know the intricacies of wine production at home, which can be a truly rewarding and pleasant activity.

Make your own rice wine!


  • 1⁄2 Cup white raw rice.
  • 2 Liters of water.
  • 1 kg Brown Sugar.
  • 1⁄2 Cup raisins, with seeds.
  • Juice of a lemon.
  • 1 Teaspoon instant yeast.



  1. First, wash the rice and rinse it. Keep it aside and let this grain soak overnight.
  2. Once the rice has been soaked, steam it for about 45 minutes and let it cool to body temperature.
  3. Rince the raisins and let them soak in fresh water for an hour or two.
  4. On a glass jar (this jar could also be a ceramic one, just make sure you have a lid to cover it) add your steamed grains of rice, the soaked raisins and incorporate one kilogram of brown or white sugar. Stir all the ingredients together. The sugar will help with the fermentation process.
  5. Now it’s time to add the juice of a lemon together with the yeast. Mix well until combined. Cover your glass jar with all the ingredients inside.

For the next eighteen days, you’ll have to keep stirring the mixture every day for two minutes in the mornings and two minutes in the evenings.

When the day nineteen comes, you’ll filter the mixture with a muslin cloth and pour it on a clean big bowl. Cover it with a lid again, and keep it closed for another week.

After this week passes, you’ll be able to transfer the mixture to clean bottles.

Now your rice wine is ready to be consumed!