Made in Singapore: The world’s first wine … made from soy

Most of us in this part of the world eat some soybean product every day: tofu, soy milk, tofu, and maybe even soy ice cream. It’s such an important staple of our diet that we think we know everything about this humble legume.

SinFooTech, a local alcoholic beverages company, got us to look at the soybean from a new perspective. It introduced what is known as soy wine, which is made from soybeans, or more precisely from soy whey. With the name Sachi – a Japanese name that means “blooming flowers and wisdom” – the drink is apparently the world’s first drink made from soy. The product was launched in November 2021.

Sachi was developed by Chua Jian Yong, a lecturer in the Department of Food Science & Technology at the National University of Singapore. In 2016, while doing his PhD, Chua found that soy whey – a nutritious by-product of tofu production – was often thrown away by tofu producers. He decided to turn the whey into a sustainable food product.

Chua collected soy whey from a tofu factory and inoculated it with yeast to start fermentation and produce alcohol. Fermentation, which lasts between 18 and 38 days, is then stopped by a rapid heating process to kill the yeast. The alcoholic beverage is then filtered to improve its clarity and texture. It has a low ABV of 5.8 percent.

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