Rice vinegar, also referred to rice wine vinegar, is made by fermenting the sugars within rice.
This type of vinegar is very popular in many Asian dishes, especially in sushi dishes. Other common uses are for salad dressing and for pickling vegetables.
Rice vinegar is also known for its strong anti-bacterial properties and may be strategically used in dishes that include raw seafood and meat.
In terms of its taste, most people report that it has a milder and less acidic flavor compared to other types of vinegar.
However, if you are wanting to use a different type of vinegar then here are some simple alternatives.
1. White Wine Vinegar
White wine vinegar is made by fermenting the ethanol within white wine to produce acetic acid. By fermenting this product in a bacteria culture for a couple of years, white wine vinegar is produced.
This type of vinegar has a very pale color depending on the wine used, and a more complex and acidic flavor compared to rice vinegar – a “sour” taste is often reported.
The exact taste depends on the quality of the white wine used. More expensive white wine such as certain sherry, champagne, or pinot gris, have a mellow taste. On the other hand, inexpensive varieties of white wine vinegar have a sharp, tart taste.
As white wine vinegar is not as sweet as rice vinegar, it may be a good idea to experiment with adding sugar (1 gram per tablespoon on vinegar) to help achieve a similar flavor.
2. Red Wine Vinegar
Red wine vinegar is made by fermenting red wine and then leaving it in some type of container for at least two years.
The use of this vinegar is almost exclusively in Europe, although it is becoming more common in Mediterranean countries.
This type of vinegar is richer and fruitier compared to rice vinegar, with a much stronger flavor profile.
Many people prefer to use red wine vinegar in meat dishes such as stews, or to achieve a real ‘kick’ for a vinaigrette.
Good quality red wine vinegar uses more expensive types of red wine and achieves a subtler fruity flavor. Inexpensive brands develop a far more dynamic taste that some people may not find pleasurable.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar made from apple juice that has been fermented, after the addition of bacteria and yeast.
It has been popularized within the health community for its touted health benefits such as decreasing cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Apple cider vinegar is similar to rice vinegar in that it has a mild taste, however it also has a hint of apple with a small amount of sourness. Due to this, it is very easy to substitute rice vinegar for apple cider vinegar for any type of dish
If a little bit more sweetness wants to be achieved with apple cider vinegar, simply add 1 gram of sugar to each tablespoon of vinegar used..
4. Champagne Vinegar
Champagne vinegar is unfortunately not actually made from champagne, despite its advertisements always referring to it as “sparkling” and “crisp”. Rather, it is a similar yet more mild version of white wine vinegar that happens to be made by fermenting the same grapes used for champagne – Chardonnay or Pinot Noir grapes.
This type of vinegar is mainly used in seafood dishes, dipping sauces, marinades and dressings. However, because it has a very mild taste, it can be used in place of rice vinegar for any dish, providing a relatively subtle flavor that does not affect other flavors within a recipe.
If a stronger flavor is desired, try mixing one tablespoon of champagne vinegar with one tablespoon of a stronger vinegar such as red wine vinegar.
5. Seasoned Rice Vinegar
Seasoned white rice vinegar is made from sake – an alcoholic drink made from fermented rice – or by adding sugar and salt to rice vinegar.
Look for seasoned rice vinegar in the Asian section of supermarkets or in Japanese specialty stores.
Due to these additions, seasoned rice vinegar will look very similar to rice vinegar, however it will be a more flavorful and sweeter option.
Keep in mind, this does mean that it contains more calories than regular rice vinegar (for all those health nuts!).
If you going to make your own seasoned rice vinegar, combine 1/4 cup of plain rice vinegar with 4 teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
6. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is a product from Italy that is made from fermented grape juice to ferment that has been left for a over 10 years. In fact, grape must is often used which is grape must, which includes all the skins, seeds and stems.
Given, there are now more affordable versions of this vinegar available that have not aged for so long, and therefore the flavors won’t be as mature and strong.
True balsamic vinegar should have an intense dark, rich, and tangy taste. Obviously, this is going to be drastically different from rice vinegar, so keep that in mind when using this as an alternative.
The most common dishes where balsamic vinegar is used is in salad dressing, dipping sauces, baked chicken and even on pizzas.