July 21 - Scientists in Singapore are turning their hands to wine-making, using the pungent-smelling durian as a replacement for grapes. They're still a long way from commercializing durian wine, but the researchers are confident that the so-called ''King of Fruits'' has potential for producing a wine that people will want to drink. Tara Cleary reports.
In Singapore, it's known as the "King of Fruits". But it's not for everyone. Durian has an extremely pungent smell -- some say downright foul. It's even been banned in public buses and trains. But that hasn't deterred Christine Lee and Fransisca Taniasuri, researchers at the National University of Singapore. They're turning durian into wine, although according to Assistant Professor Liu Shao Quan, the fruit's firm pulp must first be modified before fermentation can begin. SOUNDBITE: LIU SHAO QUAN, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT FOOD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMME AT NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE, SAYING (English): "Initially you have to do some tweaking to turn a pulp into a liquid form, that means you need to add some water, then ferment." The result is a clear wine with just six percent alcohol that Taniasuri says should be decidedly quaffable once authorities permit public consumption. SOUNDBITE: FRANSISCA TANIASURI, RESEARCHER AT FOOD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMME AT NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE, SAYING (English): "For durian lovers it will be an interesting product to try because they love durian in the first place, like myself. For the non-durian lovers, actually after the fermentation, the pungent smell, the repulsive smell of durian is reduced so actually they will dare to try." But do Singapore's residents agree? SOUNDBITE: CHEN WEN LONG, MANAGER OF 'WONDERFUL DURIAN', SAYING (Mandarin): "If given to me I will try a bit but I don't think it's possible." SOUNDBITE: LIN LI, SINGAPORE RESIDENT, SAYING (Mandarin): "I don't think it will be a problem, I like its fragrance and sweetness." Whether that can translate to market success remains to be seen ... but for the scientists there are high hopes that the King of Fruits can produce the King of Wines.