Chinese Liquor Huangjiu is classified based on various factors. Among them are the liquor's dryness, the starter used in its production, and its production method.
This is the formal classification for all Chinese wines. There are five categories: dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and extra-sweet:
Dry: with sugar content no greater than 1%. This type of yellow wine has the lowest fermentation temperature. An example of this kind is Yuanhongjiu, a specialty of Shaoxing, so-named because traditionally the wine jars are painted red.
Semi-dry: with sugar content between 1% and 3%. This type of huangjiu can be stored for a long period of time and encompasses most of the varieties of huangjiu that are exported from China. An example of this variety is Jiafanjiu, a variation on the Yuanhongjiu that involves adding more rice in fermentation. The jiafanjiu is traditionally used for ceremonies, such as child birth, engagement, and funerals.
Semi-sweet: with sugar content between 3% and 10%. The longer the semi-sweet huangjiu is stored, the darker its color becomes. This variety of huangjiu cannot be stored for long periods of time. An example of this kind is Shanniangjiu, a specialty of Shaoxing which partly uses vintage Yuanhongjiu instead of water.
Sweet: with sugar content between 10% and 20%. An example of this variety is Feng Gang Jiu. In comparison to previous types of huangjiu, sweet huangjiu can be manufactured all year round when using traditional production methods.
Extra-sweet: with sugar content equal or greater than 20%. An example of this variety is Xiang Xue Jiu.
Mijiu is the generic name for Chinese fermented rice wine, similar to Japanese sake. It is generally clear, and is used for both drinking and cooking. Mijiu intended for cooking often contains 1.5% salt. Alcohol content by volume: 12-19.5%.
Fujian glutinous rice wine: made by adding a long list of expensive Chinese medicinal herbs to glutinous rice and a low alcohol distilled rice wine. The unique brewing technique uses another wine as raw material, instead of starting with water. The wine has an orange-red color. Alcohol content by volume: 18%.