How To Brew Rice Wine

As someone who is passionate about wine, I have always been captivated by the craft of making rice wine. It is a captivating process that requires patience, accuracy, and a bit of ingenuity. Today, I …

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As someone who is passionate about wine, I have always been captivated by the craft of making rice wine. It is a captivating process that requires patience, accuracy, and a bit of ingenuity. Today, I am thrilled to share my own observations and detailed instructions on how to brew rice wine.

Understanding Rice Wine

Rice wine, also known as sake, is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage that has gained popularity worldwide. It is made from fermented rice grains and has a complex flavor profile. The brewing process involves converting starches in rice into sugars, and then fermenting those sugars into alcohol.

Gathering Your Ingredients

To begin your rice wine brewing journey, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • High-quality rice: Look for short-grain rice varieties such as sushi rice or glutinous rice.
  • Koji rice: This is steamed rice that has been inoculated with koji mold spores. Koji rice plays a crucial role in converting starches into sugars.
  • Yeast: Choose a sake yeast strain specifically designed for rice wine brewing. It provides the necessary fermentation to convert sugars into alcohol.
  • Water: Use filtered water to ensure the purity of your rice wine.

The Brewing Process

1. Preparing the Rice:

Begin by washing the rice thoroughly under cold water until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in water for about 1 hour to soften the grains.

2. Steaming the Rice:

Transfer the soaked rice to a steamer and steam it until it becomes tender and fully cooked. This usually takes around 30 minutes.

3. Cooling the Rice:

Spread the steamed rice onto a large tray or flat surface, and allow it to cool to room temperature. This step is crucial to prevent the yeast from dying due to high heat.

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4. Preparing the Koji Rice:

In a separate bowl, mix the koji rice with a small amount of water to form a paste-like consistency. This will activate the koji mold spores and initiate the fermentation process.

5. Mixing the Ingredients:

In a sterilized container, combine the cooked rice, koji rice paste, and yeast. Gently mix them together, ensuring that all the rice grains are coated with the koji rice paste.

6. Fermentation:

Transfer the mixture to a fermentation vessel, such as a glass jar or ceramic crock. Make sure to seal it tightly to create an anaerobic environment. Store the vessel in a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature around 15-20°C (59-68°F).

7. Patience is Key:

Allow the rice mixture to ferment for about 2-4 weeks. During this time, the yeast will convert the sugars in the rice into alcohol, resulting in the distinct flavor and aroma of rice wine.

Final Steps

After the fermentation period, strain the liquid through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer to remove any solids. The resulting liquid is your homemade rice wine.

Transfer the rice wine to sterilized bottles or containers, and refrigerate it to slow down further fermentation. The flavors of rice wine will continue to develop over time, so it’s advisable to let it age for a few months before enjoying.


Brewing rice wine at home is a rewarding and enjoyable process, allowing you to create your own unique flavors and experiment with different techniques. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if your first batch doesn’t turn out exactly as expected. With time and experience, you’ll be able to craft delicious rice wine that will impress your friends and family.

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So, grab your ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and embark on this exciting journey of brewing rice wine. Cheers!

John has been a hobbyist winemaker for several years, with a few friends who are winery owners. He writes mostly about winemaking topics for newer home vintners.
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