You Only Need 2 Ingredients To Make Homemade Rice Wine

If you've ever been intimidated by the hard-to-find ingredients and complex steps required for many fermentation recipes, consider rice wine the perfect beginner's place to start. You'll find nary a fussy ingredient or convoluted step here. In fact, all you need are two simple ingredients and a bit of patience, and you'll be the proud home-brewer of a delightfully sweet, fruity rice wine that can be used in a myriad of sweets and savory dishes, or enjoyed as a light dessert wine. You may think of rice wine as a cousin to other fermented rice beverages, like mirin, sake, or rice wine vinegar, but it's a distinct product all its own, with a rich culinary history dating back to ancient China.

To make your own, you'll start with your pick of rice — plain white, short grain sweet rice, black rice, or even barley, though less traditional, all work. Then you'll need specialty wine yeast balls called qu, jiuqu, or jiuyao (you may also find them referred to as Shanghai yeast balls); these contain a microfungus responsible for breaking down the starchy rice (aka, the magic!). Wine yeast balls can be found at your local Asian food market or online. With a little patience and heat — two key steps for any process involving fermentation — you'll be well on your way to making your own rice wine at home and unlocking a world of sweet flavor with zero added sugar!

Rice and yeast create sweet rice wine

First things first, set yourself up for success with clean kitchen utensils and hands, a must to avoid contamination whenever fermentation and live microorganisms are involved. You can pre-boil your tools or wash them in hot water and soap. When you're ready to get started on this simple two-ingredient recipe, you'll want to use the ratio of 1 cup of uncooked rice to 1 teaspoon of the specialty yeast balls ground into a powder.

Begin by rinsing your rice with water and cooking it in a rice cooker. Once it's ready, rinse and break up the rice with cold filtered or bottled water until it's at room temperature. In a separate bowl, dissolve your powdered yeast in a bit of water, then pour it over the rice and mix everything together. Pour the rice and yeast mixture into a large, clean vessel like a pot or Dutch oven, and make a hole down into the packed rice. As the process occurs, this hole will fill up with fermented liquid. Heat and time are the only remaining ingredients, so cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap and let sit somewhere warm at around 86 degrees Fahrenheit. In approximately 36 hours, your container will be full of a sweet liquid that can be strained from the remaining rice and sipped as you would a dessert wine. You can also use it in sauces, savory dishes, or desserts like puddings and mochi.