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.

Durian Gargle? Durian Handwash?

Please don’t ask me why I found this article but I did. I have a slight obsession with teeth at the moment and it was interesting to read that the husk of the durian has some antiseptic properties which some very entrepreneurial scientists are proposing to make a mouthwash with.

(The bit about toxicity and death in the research aspect of the article is particularly amusing)

Already we know that there is something in the durian pellicle that people believe can make the smell from your hands go away, as long as the water is run through it (see this post). Maybe in addition to considering the mouthwash to combat halitosis, they can make a handwash to combat the trapped aromas on skin surfaces too. Now there’s a new business idea….

From: Dental Tribune

A Durian a day keeps caries away, research from Asia suggests

by Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

LAS VEGAS, Nev., USA: A sugary gel found on the thorn-covered husks of the Durian fruit is currently under observation by researchers for its potential to work as a mouth disinfectant. Students from the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Chulalongkorn in Bangkok, Thailand, recently presented their intitial findings at the Annual Meeting of the American Dental Association in Las Vegas, the online portal drbiscus.com reports.

They found that the substance made of polysaccharides was able to reduce the number of Streptococcus mutans in lab rats hours after use which would make it as effective as 0.2% chlorhexidine, a common formula used in mouth rinses. Studies on human subjects also showed a reduction of hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, and dimethyl sulphide, compounds responsible for halitosis or bad breath. No evidence of treatment-related gross toxicity or deaths caused by exposure to mouth rinse with durian polysaccharide gel (DPG) was observed, the researchers stated.

Durian is popular in many Southeast Asian countries including Thailand and Malaysia which are the world’s largest importers of the fruit. It’s root and leaves are often used in traditional medicine.

Earlier research conducted with durian polysaccharide gel have confirmed the antibacterial properties of the gel.