Singapore researchers make healthy wine out of tofu

It’s the world’s first of its kind, bears sweet, fruity notes and is good for your health.

Zoey Chong Reporter
Zoey is CNET's Asia News Reporter based in Singapore. She prefers variety to monotony and owns an Android mobile device, a Windows PC and Apple's MacBook Pro all at the same time. Outside of the office, she can be found binging on Korean variety shows, if not chilling out with a book at a café recommended by a friend.
Zoey Chong
2 min read

Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan (right) and PhD student Mr Chua Jian Yong (left), both from the Food Science & Technology Programme under the NUS Faculty of Science, successfully turned tofu whey into a tasty alcoholic beverage which they named Sachi.

National University of Singapore

Jesus turned water into wine, according to the Christian Bible. Now, two researchers in Singapore have discovered a way to make wine from soybeans.

To be precise, the researchers from the National University of Singapore created the alcoholic beverage out of tofu whey, the university said in a statement Monday. The project took three months to complete.

It's not the first time researchers are messing with our taste buds. At NUS, researchers have created a virtual cocktail comprising of a device that interacts with your senses while you drink. In April, CNET's Aloysius tried another NUS project that lets you send the flavour and colour of lemonade to a specially made tumbler filled only with plain water, so the drinker tastes lemonade from it. And while in Japan, he found a bottle of water -- transparent -- that actually tastes like milk tea.

Called Sachi, the wine takes three weeks to make and contains seven to eight percent of alcohol. The name, derived from a Japanese term meaning "blossoming wisdom," is a tribute to the beverage's sake-like profile and a reflection of its sweet taste accompanied by fruity floral notes without a hint of soy bean.

It may be alcoholic, but Sachi's creators say the wine comes with health benefits. For example, tofu whey contains high levels of calcium and unique soya nutrients such as prebiotics and naturally occurring antioxidants called isoflavones, which can improve bone health, heart health and even prevent cancer.

Tofu whey is liquid waste created during the process of making beancurd and often thrown away. When discarded before it's treated, though, it pollutes the environment because the protein and soluble sugars in the whey could also diminish oxygen levels in waterways. Recycling the whey this way, on the other hand, generates economic returns for businesses.

"The health benefits associated with soy products, coupled with changing preferences towards vegetarian diets, have fuelled the growth of tofu production, [increasing] the amount of tofu whey … proportionally," said Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan, who embarked on the project a year ago with his PhD student.

"Alcoholic fermentation can serve as an alternative method to convert tofu whey into food products that can be consumed directly," he added.

CNET has reached out to NUS for a comment.

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