Tofu turns tipsy: meet the world’s first soy wine

By: Jethro Kang
Edited by: IAAS Secretariat- Chloe Tay

Soya beans are big in Asian cuisine. It is indispensable from most of the dishes and beverages. Moreover, it’s only set to get bigger with rising popularity with the rising of meat alternatives and food technology in the agricultural industry. Luckily, Sachi Wine figures out how to turn tofu by-product into alcohol.

A Singapore startup has developed the ‘world’s first’ soy-based wine, using wastewater from a tofu factory located near its distillery. The main ingredient of SinFooTech Sachi wine is soy whey, a by-product generated from the manufacture of tofu in the nearby plant.

In 2016, SinFooTech’s then co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, CHUA Jian Yong, began researching soy whey as part of his PhD studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Yong, who’s also interested in sustainable food production, was keen on finding uses for the nutritious by-product, instead of letting it pollute water bodies and being discarded.

As we are all curious on the process of creating this soya wine. The startup collects the whey via wastewater, where it is then taken to its distillery and yeast and sugar are added. The liquid is then left for fermentation in tanks for up to six weeks by using a proprietary technology, which results in this low calorie and sustainable soya wine.

How does it taste? The company describes as “clean, crisp, semi-sweet” with a “light, fruity finish” that is similar to sake.

Containing 5.8% alcohol-by-volume, Sachi has a pleasant flavour profile with hints of honey on the nose, without the add of any flavour additives.

Generally, consuming alcohol is seen as an unhealthy act. But, Sachi is different. It is rich in soy antioxidants called isoflavones, which can lower the chance of women getting breast cancer and osteoporosis.

Singapore is now becoming the hub for serving sustainable future-ready foods. It is investing in R&D and working with tech start-ups to turn innovative ideas into reality.

While there is still a long road to go in Singapore’s food innovation journey, it is off to a good start, and we need more companies like SinFoodTech to create more sustainable and novel food products that both trick my taste buds and redefine the whole food industry in Singapore and beyond.