Durian Wine… Is it worth the effort?

Lindsay recently wrote an article for Winemag on the research into durian wine.

It’s sometimes strange what research gets funded and why. Usually a committee sits down to work out the merits to justify whether a project is feasible, has the potential to be commercialised or contribute to the good of society at some point. Sometimes, institutions are flush with cash and the Principal investigator gets a free hand to do as he/ she fancies. 

In Singapore, this seems to be the case with a project involving the research into turning durian into wine. It sounds like the personal interest of a particular researcher to find any project to work on. I find it hard to believe that the economics justify the costs.
A quick comparison of the original fruit source of wine (the juicy, delicious grape) as our comparison.

  1. Durian is an expensive starting product and non-uniform fruit. Grapes which are grown by vegetative propagation are more consistent branch to branch, vineyard to vineyard. Not the case for durian fruits whose flavours vary between branches and trees.
  2. Durians aren’t naturally juicy. Grapes contain a lot of juice- great for making a drink.
  3. Durians don’t ferment naturally to produce something tasty. Grapes are the naturally occurring fermenting starter, wine making was discovered through a natural process.
  4. Durians are not popular with everyone.. I know many people who refuse excellent durian, but very few who refuse a mediocre grape. 
  5. The whole point of a grape wine is to appreciate its grape flavours mixed in with various other soil influences which the grape absorbs through its growth stages. I can’t imagine tasting a durian and sensing the soil flavours.. It just wouldn’t work for me. 
  6. All in all there must be many chemicals and steps involved to make something unpalatable into something worth drinking… Sounds pretty artificial to me.

This research works as a novelty perhaps, but I can’t see this making any real commercial headway. 

Perhaps if the research premise is to learn about what enzymes could breakdown the aromatic esters that make the durian scent so powerfully special so that you can market a durian deodorant or breath mints… Now that I can understand. 

Dr. Lu, please give me a shout if you need ideas in this direction.

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