Rice wine has a colorful history. Evidence exists that rice wine has been brewed in China since prehistoric times, with first written records engraved on bones and shells dating from the Shang Dynasty. Traditionally, glutinous rice was considered the best grain for brewing, but modern methods may utilize polished rice of various grains.

Today, rice wine is still widely used in China and Asia, mostly for cooking, since the common variety has a rather foul flavor (Orwell compares Victory Gin to rice wine in 1984). It is highly alcoholic, commonly as high as 22% alcohol.

Note: Japanese sake is also derived from rice, but it is not wine, though both are much more alcoholic than beer.