Mirin is a Japanese rice wine product that serves as a sweetener in many Japanese dishes. Although it's often called “rice wine,” mirin is actually made differently than sake and other rice wines. Traditional mirin is made from glutinous rice, distilled alcohol, and rice cultured with koji (*Aspergillus oryzae*), a starch-eating fungus used to make alcohol, vinegar, and fermented soy products. Use mirin for the salty-sweet umami flavor it adds to a meal.\n\nYou can find mirin in both Asian and Western grocery stores. There are a few different types of mirin, so check the bottle to see what you're getting.\n\n1. __Hon mirin__: Hon mirin—literally “true mirin”—has an alcohol content of around 14 percent and is made by naturally fermenting glutinous rice with shochu (distilled alcohol) and rice cultured with koji. True mirin has no added sugar or salt. It has a nuanced umami flavor and can be pretty pricey. You may have to go to a specialty liquor store to find hon mirin.\n2. __Aji mirin__: This “mirin-type condiment” is the most commonly available version of mirin. It's a synthetic mirin-flavor product, produced by combining a little alcohol with water and sweeteners such as corn syrup. (Real mirin's sugar content comes from natural fermentation.) Aji mirin is lower in alcohol than true mirin—around one to eight percent.\n3. __Mirin fu__: A "mirin-like condiment," mirin fu contains less than one percent alcohol. It's made from corn syrup, rice seasoning, vinegar, and other flavorings to mimic the flavor of mirin with little or no alcohol. \nMirin is a sweetener, so you can substitute anything sweet for mirin in a pinch. Sugar and water is the easiest substitution, but there are several more flavorful options.\n\n1. __Sugar and soy sauce__: Although soy sauce and mirin taste pretty different, soy sauce will provide some of the umami of real mirin.\n2. __Sugar and rice wine vinegar__: If your recipe already calls for rice wine vinegar, you can just dissolve a little sugar in the rice vinegar to sweeten it like mirin.\n3. __Sugar and sake__: Of all the mirin substitutes, sake and sugar taste closest to true mirin, combining sweetness with rice wine. \n4. __Dry sherry or sweet marsala wine__: Though they have a pretty different flavor profile than mirin, [dry sherry](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/whats-the-difference-between-cooking-sherry-dry-sherry-and-regular-sherry-plus-4-easy-recipes-using-sherry) and sweet marsala wine will still give you that "sweet wine" flavor.\n\nMirin has many applications in Japanese cuisine. You can think of it as a go-to sweetener for anything savory. A good bottle of mirin will balance salty soy sauce and bring out sweet notes in umami-rich dashi fish broth. Consider using it to flavor:\n\n1. __Sushi rice__: Make restaurant-quality sushi rice by seasoning glutinous rice with mirin, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. \n2. __Marinade__: Mirin tenderizes meats, which is why it's perfect for marinades. Try it mixed with miso and sake.\n3. __Glaze__: Make a teriyaki sauce of mirin, sake, soy sauce, and sugar to brush onto yakitori-style chicken skewers.\n4. __Tempura dipping sauce__: Combine soy sauce and mirin to create a dipping sauce for fried shrimp and vegetables.\n5. __Soups and noodle dishes__: Use mirin as a seasoning in soups and noodle dishes such as ramen, [miso soup](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/authentic-japanese-miso-soup-recipe), soba noodles, sukiyaki, and [stir-fried udon noodles](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-are-udon-noodles).\n\n\nBecome a better chef with the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com/). Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by culinary masters, including Gabriela Cámara, Chef Thomas Keller, Massimo Bottura, Dominique Ansel, Gordon Ramsay, Alice Waters, and more.\nLearn all about mirin, a sweet fermented condiment essential to Japanese cooking.