3.6 Classical Rice Wine Brewing Processes

Shaoxing, located in Zhejiang Province has been the most famous rice wine brewing center from ancient times. There are four classic styles of rice wines produced by "JOINT CORPORATION OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE OF RICE WINE-MAKING INDUSTRY", the biggest rice wine producer in China. Their main products include "JIA FAN RICE WINE", "YUAN HONG RICE WINE", "SHAN NIANG RICE WINE" and "XIANG XUE RICE WINE. " The brewing processes developed in Shaoxing have been considered as classical ones. We will briefly introduce the basic procedure here and the mysterious and sophiscated techniques used in various complex procedures are difficult to describe in details because of limited volumes.


As we know, there are five basic types of rice wines. For each type of rice wine, the process and ingredients are defferent. We will take a standard procedure for making YUAN HONG rice wine as an example to illustrate the techniques used.

A general flow diagram of the rice wine brewing process (for YUAN HONG RICE WINE) is shown in Fig. 1

 fresh water   Polished glutinous rice         wheat koji     traditional
                                                       seed mash
   acidified rice steeping                                 
   steeping liquid                                         
          cooling by spreading rice                        
          on bamboo mats                                   
ة    main mashة
                further fermentation
                 filtrationsolid cake
                 fresh rice wine
   natural colorant settling  lees
                     rice wine
The ingredients for making "YUAN HONG RICE WINE" is given in table 1.

Table 1 The ingredients of mian mash (YUAN HONG RICE WINE)
glutinous rice 144 (kg)
wheat koji 22.5 (kg)
traditional seed mash 8-10 (kg)
acidfied rice-steeping
liquid 84 (kg)
fresh water 112 (kg)
The operating method before the step of "main mash" is identical to that for "traditional seed mash" described previously.


The process of JIA FAN RICE WINE brewing is similar to that of YUAN HONG RICE WINE brewing. This rice wine differs from YUAN HONG RICE WINE in that less water is used when mixing with the mash' ingredient, or the concentration of the main mash is higher than that of YUAN HONG RICE WINE. The ingredients of main mash for FIA FAN RICE WINE is given in Table 2.

Table 2 The ingredients of mian mash (for FIA FAN RICE WINE)
glutinous rice 144 (kg)
wheat koji 25 (kg)
traditional seed mash acidfied rice-steeping 8-9 (kg)
liquid 50 (kg)
fresh water 68.6 (kg)
distilled spirit 5 (kg)
As the concentration of the mash is higher, the initial mash's temperature after mixing all gredients is set at about 22-25 , and people alwasy start brewing practice in cold winters. The main fermentation lasts 15 - 20 days, and before transfering the main mash to narrow jars for further fermentation, a small amounts of distilled spirits and traditional seed mash are added to the main mash. It takes about 70 days more for the mash to be matured.

JIA FAN RICE WINE is a type of semi-dry rice wine.


SAN NIANG RICE WINE is a kind of semi-sweet rice wine fortified by adding aged YUAN HONG RICE WINE to the main mash before fermentation. The basic ingredients for it are given in Table 3. The brewing process is similar to that of YUAN HONG RICE WINE. Because the ethanol content in the main mash at the begining reached to about 6%, the growth of yeasts is supressed and the fermentation is retarded. The initial mash's temperature is set a little higher than that for YUAN HONG RICE WINE brewing, and during the fermentation, it needs to carefully keep the temperature of the mash.

Table 3 The ingredients of mian mash (for SAN NIANG RICE WINE)
glutinous rice 144 (kg)
wheat koji 25 (kg)
traditional seed mash acidfied rice-steeping 15 (kg)
liquid 50 (kg)
rice wine(YUAN HONG RICE WINE) 100 (kg)


XIANG XUE RICE WINE is a type of sweet rice wine fortified by adding distilled spirits, which is similar to Port-type wines. This rice wine is made by stopping the fermentation by adding distiilled spirit when a significant amount (about 20% ) of sugar remains. The distilled spirit is made by refermentation of the spent grain, the by -product after pressing, and distillation of it. The resulting rice wine is high in alcohol (about 20%) and sugar ( above 20%). This type of rice wine can be made at any time, and can withstand long aging periods. The flow diagram of Fortified rice wine ( XIANG XUE RICE WINE as an example) is shown in Fig. 3.

The main points for making fortified rice wines are that adding distilled spirits to the main mash should be in times when excessive sugar is accumulated during the stage of saccharification. The resulting rice wines generally resist further fermentation by yeast action and are stable primarily because of the high concentration of alcohol.

Table 4 The ingredients of mian mash ( XIANG XUE RICE WINE)
glutinous rice 100 (kg)
wheat koji 10 (kg)
distilled spirit (50%) 100 (kg)
XIAO QU 0.187 (kg)
               Polished glutinous rice
               Steeping   fresh waer
               Cooling by drenching     fresh water
               fresh water through it
               Main mash  XIAO QU
               Addition of wheat koji  wheat koji
               Addition of distilled spirit distilled spirit
               Slow fermentation
               Final product
Fig 3 Flow diagram of Fortified Rice Wine brewing process Other Types of Alcoholic Beverages Made from Cereals

3.6.5 Red-Rice Wine

Red rice wine, is called "HONG QU JIU" in Chinese. This kind of rice wine has a long history. The producing areas have been scattered mainly over Jiangsu Province, Jiangxi Province, Fujian Province and Zhejiang Province.

This rice wine is brewed from fine glutinous rice with red rice and wheat QU as saccharifying and fermenting agents, and is bright golden-yellow in colour, has mellow aromas and beautiful flavours, and leaves a relaxing and pleasant aftertaste.

The brewing process is shown in Fig 5.

 Seed mash    Water    Glutinous rice     red  rice     wheat koji
               Steeping         Steeping         
                     by spreading                    
       Main mash               
                       The main mash                   
                 divided into              
                        two parts    
          Addition of              Addition of
          steamed rice             steamed rice
       Secondary fermentation       Secondary fermentation
                         Squeezing   Spent grains
      Natural colorant New rice wine
                         Rice wine
The gredients for red rice wine brewing is given in Table 6.

The gredients for red rice wine brewing
Glutinous rice 100 kg
Red rice 8 kg
Wheat koji 4 kg
water 120 kg

3.6.6 Glutinous Millet Wine

Rice wine made from Glutinous millet used to be the most widely accepted alcoholic drinks in North China in ancient times. Its output exceeded that of rice wines made from glutinous rice produced in South China before Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.). Now the millet rice wine is mainly produced in Shandong Province, Shanxi Province and Hebei Province. The "JI MO LAO JIU" is famous millet rice wine produced in Shandong Province.

The pretreatment process of millet is different from that of glutinous rice. The washed millet at first should be heated by boiling water so water can penetrated into the inside of kernels of millet .After the heated millet is cooled to below 44 , it is steeped in lukewarm water. Cooking of the millet demonstrats a distinguishing feature that the steeped millet is cooked in a cauldron by direct fire .During cooking, the millet is continously turned over. Besides being gelatinized by cooking, the millet is partly burnt to become carameline. This brown colored millet offers the millet wine with a dark-brown color, and this alcoholic drink is transparant, with trace sediments but does not become turbid even after long storage. It has a special fragrance of burnt millet gruel, with a little bitter taste.

The flowchart of brewing process is shown in Fig 6.

     Yeast     fresh water         millet              wheat koji
                 boiling water Heating by              
                               Cooling by speading     
                 by direct fire          
                                 Cooling by spreading    
                                 Adding wheat koji 
       Adding yeasts
                                   Squeezing Spent grains
                                   Millet wine
Fig 6 A flowchart of millet wine brewing

3.6.7 Sealed-jar Rice Wine

Sealed-jar rice wine is a sweet type rice wine made from glutinous rice and fortified by adding distilled spirit. During the period of aging, the jar containing the rice wine is sealed tightly for 3-6 months, so it is termed Sealed-jar rice Wine.This rice wine is crystal- clear and orange-red. The producing areas have been scattered mainly over Jiangsu Province, Jiangxi Province, Fujian Province and Zhejiang Province. The brewing process is shown in Fig 7.

     Distilled spirit      Glutinous rice       water        koji
                        Cooling by                        
                        drencing water            
                         Main mash    
           Main fermentation
           secondary fermentation (7 days)
                         Sealed for aging (3-6 months)
                       Storage in cold place (4-5 years)
                        Sealed-jar rice wine
Fig 7 The brewing process of Sealed Rice Wine

The distilled spirits are added to the main mash 24 hours later after koji has been mixed with the ingedients, and the additions are divided into five batches. The amount of 1st addition is 6% of the sum total, and the 2nd, 12%, the 3rd, 18%, the 4th, 24%. The remaining is added when fermentation is almost completed.

3.6.8 Corn Wine

Corn has been widely planted in North China.The total output all over China in 1981 has been reached to 60,000,000 tons. As the living standard of common people improves year by year, this coarse food grain is no longer their staple food. The price strikingly differential between glutinous rice and corn offers strong incentive for the substitution of corn for glutinous rice for alcoholic beverages. It was necessary to develop a new techniques for converting this cheap raw material to alcoholic beverages. The so called Corn wine made from corn was newly developed in 1982 by Changchun Rice Wine Brewery, JieLin Province. A workshop with an annual output of 2500/5000 tons has been established in this brewery from 1985 to 1987. The producing areas have been scattered mainly over Jielin Province, Shanxi Province, Sandong Province, Henang Province, Heilongjiang Province and Liaoning Province. Because the amylose and amylopectin contents and the character of corn kernel differ from those of glutinous rice which is considered to be the best raw materials for rice wine brewing, it is obvious that the successful pretreatment of corn is a key step for further processes. It is needed to develop new techniques and equipments for brewing corn wine. Untill now, three types of processes have been developed for corn wine production in a large scale. One of these processes has been mostly accepted by breweries as shown in Fig 7.

               kernel of corn
                 Corn grit
                      Koji, yeast, and water
               Saccharification /fermentation
                  Squeezing Spent grains
               Clarification Lees
                 Corn wine
Fig 8 A corn wine brewing process

3.6.9 QING KE JIU (High-land Barley Wine)

Qing Ke Jiu is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from high- land barley with koji as saccharifying and fermenting agents. It has been a very popular drink mainly in Xizhang and Qinghai. The ancient writing recorded that when Wen Chen Pricess of Tang Dynasty (618-907 A. D. ) married the Tibetan King, Song Zan Gan Bu in 641 A.D., she introduced the rice wine brewing technology that had been highly developed by Han People to Tibet. The brewing techniques using JIU QU as starter and high land barley as the raw material was spreaded all over Tibet. The brewing process for Qing Ke Jiu is similar to that of rice wine. First, the QIng Ke (high land barley) is cooked, then cooled by spreading it on a floor. The cold barley kernels is mixed with koji powder before the mixture being transfered to a Jar or wooden tub. The container is covered with wheat straw or barley straw and sealed with mud to maintain the temperature. About 3 days later, fresh water is added to the semi-solid mash, and the tub or jar is covered again. Another 2 days later, the Qing Ke Jiu is ready for comsuption.