Rice vinegar refers to any of several varieties of East Asian vinegar made from rice or rice spirits. In Asian-inspired Western cooking, a dish which calls for rice vinegar generally refers to the fairly mild and somewhat sweet rice vinegar native to Japan. This article deals primarily with that vinegar and its close cousins – the distinctive and highly flavoured varieties native to China (e.g. Chinkiang vinegar) are not dealt with in detail here.
Rice vinegar is known by a variety of names depending on the variety and country of origin. Some of these are detailed in the “Types and Varieties” section below, but the most commonly encountered names are komezu (Japanese), micho (Korean), and dấm gạo (Vietnamese). Many different Chinese names are used depending on the variety, but mǐcù simply means rice vinegar in Mandarin. Rice vinegar is also sometimes referred to as rice wine vinegar.