Saturday, March 26, 2011

Homebrew Glutinous Rice Wine

What prompted me to make my own glutinous rice wine in the first place was I tasted a sweet homemade glutinous rice wine before.  It was so sweet and made the stir-fried ginger chicken so sweet and flavorful.  The sweetness that came from the rice wine couldn't be compared with the sugar you added to make it sweet.  The natural sweetness that came from it was unbeatable.  The above picture was taken in day three of fermentation.  I used my slow cooker to ferment it because I don't have a big glass jar.  You can also use the ceramic pot (Corning ware).

I tasted the rice wine and it was sweet but not much alcohol content.  The sweetest I tasted was day six.  But after day seven and when I tasted the rice wine again it was less sweet and started to taste more alcohol.  Subsequently the alcohol taste became stronger, the sweetness was gone and it turned sour.  At first I wanted to ferment it for up to 45 days but I quickly harvested it at day 22 because I was afraid that as the alcohol content went up, it would be more sour.  I might have introduce some bacteria to turn the wine sour when I played with the wine too much, I almost checked it every other day by spooning it around and tasting the wine.  Because a successful one will still produce a sweet rice wine even at day 45.  It was my first try so pardon my curiosity.  At day 22, the wine tasted dry and sourish.  A failed first attempt at wine making for me but luckily it didn't turn moldy and still very fragrant.

This was the rice residue at day 22.  I used a sieve to squeeze out the wine by pressing it with a spoon.  You can use your hand and a cheese cloth if you prefer.  If your rice wine is sweet, you can keep this in the refrigerator and use it to make a Chinese rice wine dessert by adding water, egg drop and tang yuan.  Or use it in cooking or marinate meat/poultry.  Since mine was sour, I didn't bother to reuse this.

The rice wine that I got from 4 cups of glutinous rice and 2 wine biscuits.  I got a 750ml bottle of rice wine and the one you saw below.  It was white and muddy at first, but would turn clear once you let it sit in the refrigerator (see picture below).  Keep it in the refrigerator to stop the fermentation process.

Besides the 750ml bottle, the above was the extra that I got.  I cooked the above with my ginger chicken and would share the recipe in my next post.  Since it's sourish, I need to counter it with sugar in my cooking.

Recipe and methods courtesy of Melody's blog.  Sorry I couldn't find the old post, the site was gone.  But thanks Melody for sharing.


3 cups short grain sweet rice (long grain sweet rice will yield less sweet wine)
2 balls of wine yeast
1 Tbsp. flour (optional, if add will yield sweeter wine)
1 cup water

Things needed:
1 big mixing bowl, 1 big plastic colander, 1 flour cloth, a steamer, a container about 3 quart with loosely covered lid, wax paper and a rolling pin.  Must sure all these are clean and without any oil residue or the wine can go rancid/moldy.


1.   Wash rice in a very clean colander and put it in a clean mixing bowl.  Add water and let it sit over night until the grain is swollen and brittle when you press it.

2.  Line a flour cloth over the tray of a steamer whichever you can use a bamboo or stainless steel steamer as long as it is very clean.  Boil water.

3.  When the steamer is ready, carefully transfer the rice on the steamer tray, and steam for 20 to 30 minutes on high depends on how big is the steamer.  You will know the rice is done when the rice turn translucent throughout not opaque anymore.  If you taste the rice, it cooked through but still remain hard and chewy.

*  Don't fluff the rice or it may break.  Also we don;t want soft or mushy rice.  Mushy rice does not absorb water well.  It is one of the reason I don't use a rice cooker to cook sweet rice because if not control well, rice turn too soft or mushy.*

4.  Take the steamer tray off the steamer and let it cool.  I let it cool about 2 hours.

5.  After the rice is cool, carefully transfer it to a big colander.  Put it under a faucet and let the cold water gently running and continually rinse the rice and carefully use both hands to toss the rice until all the grain is separate and cool completely.

* Make sure the rice is intact.  Don't break the rice or it can go moldy easier.  Make sure to rinse rice until it totally cold or wine can go rancid.  Sometimes we use our hands to feel the rice is cold but in the center of the rice can still be warm.*

6.  While rice is draining, put those two wine yeast balls in between wax paper, and use a rolling pin gently break down the balls and roll it into fine powder.  At this time, add 1 tablespoon flour into the yeast and mix them well.

7.  Transfer drained rice in a clean mixing bowl, and add yeast mixture.  Use your very clean hands to gently toss and mix yeast and rice well.  At this time, you will have very sticky rice and hands.

*  You don't have to drain the rice very dry.  It is fine to have some wet rice, which can yield more wine.  While you are mixing the yeast and rice, try to keep the rice intact.*

8.  Transfer the well-mixed rice from the mixing bowl to the container you will use for fermentation.  Your Hands will still be sticky.  Put the prepared 1 cup water into now the empty mixing bowl, and gently rinse the bowl and your hands.  Keep the water.

*  The mixing bowl will still contain residue yeast.  By rinsing the bowl with water and hands we save some yeast to use for later.  It may sounds stranger but I was thought by my aunt this way so I still keep doing the same.*

9.  Use your clean hands to even the rice and press the rice sown firmly.  After the rice is totally pressed down tightly, dig a hole/well about 2.5" to 3" diameter right in the middle.  Rinse your sticky hands in the water, and pat the rice down again, and also reinforce the wall of the hole/well by patting the rice.  Rinse your hands and repeat until you have very tight rice and a strong hole/well.

10.  Carefully pouring the yeast water from the mixing bowl on to the rice and try not to disturb the well.  Loosely cover the container.

*Rice will absorb all the water within hours.  I use a corning ware with a glass lid.*

11.  Transfer the containers to a warm spot and wrap it with a blanket.  I keep it about one foot away from a heat source such as a heat register or a space heater.  Now it is the fermentation time!

What to expect and to do during the fermentation process:

1.  After the end of the first 24 hours, you can open the blanket and l.see wat:-) er start to accumulate in the bottom of the well.  If there is any water present in the well, use a very clean teaspoon to spoon the water and spread it on to the surface of the rice.  From the 24 to 48 hours keep repeat it for 3 to 4 times to keep the surface of the rice wet enough.

* It is important in the first 48 hours to keep container warm to initiate the fermentation process, and also keep the surface of the rice wet enough to prevent it from getting moldy.*

2.  At the end of the second day, the well should be pretty full and the surface of the rice is wet too.  It starts to be fragrant.  At the end of the second day, you can unwrap the container now.  I transfer the container from the heat source to the microwave.  From now on I just leep it there and only to remove it when I want to use the microwave.  From 48 to 72 hours, keep repeat the first step 3 times a day.

* At this time if you still keep the container too warm, rice wine will start getting moldy or too sour.  As soon as it starts fermentation, I move it to the microwave.*

3.  At the end of the third day,  you don't have to spoon the wine from the well anymore instead use the spoon to press the rice down to the wine for three times a day.  At this time it is very fragrant and bubbling too.

4.  At the end of the forth day, there should be lots of wine and bubbling.  The rice is pretty shrink down, and it is very fragrant.  Repeat third step two times a day.

5.  It is done at the end of the fifth day.  The bubbling is quiet down.  Transfer the sweet rice wine into the refrigerator.  Cover but not tight because it is still fermenting.

How to enjoy your sweet rice wine:

You can eat it straight, diluted with hot water and add sugar, diluted with water and cook off the alcohol.  Use it in cooking.  Anyway you like.


Lisa Ho said...

This is how tapai (fermented glutinous rice) is made... its just that we dont age it to become wine :D

daphne said...

Wow! U make your own glutinous rice wine! That's very impressive!!

Smoky Wok (formerly Tastes of Home) said...

I love cooking with glutinous rice wine! What a useful guide..thanks for sharing!

Min {Honest Vanilla} said...

Wow I'd never in my life thought of making my own rice wine! This is such a novelty idea to me :) Bravo for showing us how it can be done!

Unknown said...

wow! kudos for trying to make your own... lazy spoiled me normally just grab a bottle from a supermarket...

Food For Tots said...

I never have the patience to brew rice wine (partly due to my lazy bones!). I'm sure you will make it in your 2nd attempt. Jia yu, my friend!

tigerfish said...

I never thought of doing my own too. But that is because I never thought of buying glutinous rice in the first place. I like your idea of adding sweet rice wine to savory dishes. Must be so delicious (and different).

Kay @ Chopstix2Steaknives said...

Wow. Would love to make this too. Can't wait to see your future successful attempts.

Cuisine Paradise said...

I can nv success in this. I have tried a few time and the end result is noooo good :( But your really look great and it goes well with that rice wine chicken....

Little Corner of Mine said...

Lisa, the next time I make it, I don't going to age it, I will harvest it in day 6. Hehehe...

No lah Daphne, actually very easy to make only. ;)

You're welcome Jen, I also found the guide useful. :)

You're welcome Min.

Haha Rita, actually grabbing a bottle at the supermarket is cheaper than making our own. ;)

Thanks F4T, I want to try again. :) But have to finish this batch of 750ml bottle first.

Tigerfish, this batch of wine is sourish lah, not sweet at all. :P I shouldn't have aged it. Should just followed the recipe.

Thanks Kay!

Cuisine Paradise, maybe you can try again but don't age it.

Unknown said...

That is so cool you made rice wine.

Janine said...

This is how my grandmother does it too! (I think) It tastes fantastically sweet and yummy!

Babe_KL said...

i'm surprise you could actually buy the wine cake there :p

i usually buy the commercial ones here which is just as good but not as sweet as those homemade ones which my mother used during my confinement

Anonymous said...

Hi Chin,
Hope you remember me, Cindi from KC and Jodeli. I have been reading your blog often, just wanted to say hi to you.
Yeah, glutinous rice wine, just made and harvested last Sunday. I used my MIL method, the difference is after cooking the glutinous rice, we do not wash...then boil- results is the same - glutinous rice It would last a long time.
Yours looks great, very clean residue, this can be cooked with chicken

Little Corner of Mine said...

Hi Cindi, of course I remember you. :) Thanks for leaving me a message. You mean you boil the collected rice wine for 5 minutes before keeping it right?

Unknown said...

The link to the guide is broken :(

Little Corner of Mine said...

Sorry the link was broken Billy. I tried to give the owner credit by linking but sometimes this thing happen. They either stop blogging or close down the site. Anyway, luckily I have a copy of the print, I will type it here and share it and credit them here.

Little Corner of Mine said...

Hi Emily,

Sorry I accidentally deleted your post. Mine turned alcohol and not sweet too. If you want it sweet, perhaps harvest it in day 6? The heat might play a part, you can also wrap it with towel and keep it in your basement or a cool dark place?

emily said...

Hello and thank you for your reply! Maybe I should try making it again and taking it with me to work and put it in a warm place but in the air conditioned area. My mom is worried and told me to throw this batch away. She is afraid it could be dangerous. I put it in the fridge now to see what happens. Let's see, we made it on Thursday night. Sunday we tried it and it was strong alcohol already. I put it in the fridge Sunday night also. I wonder what it is that makes the difference? You think longer fermentation might make it sweeter?

Little Corner of Mine said...

Hi Emily,

For me, longer fermentation makes it a stronger alcohol content. You probably have to start a new batch and keep it in the refrigerator in day 6 when it still tastes sweet.

Little Corner of Mine said...

Hi Emily,

Also make sure you are using a good wine yeast ball because that will play a difference as well. Ask your mom for the brand of wine yeast ball that she used that produce a sweet wine.

Oli said...

What can I do with the leftover rice wine residue besides cooking with chicken?