An Introduction To Yeast
Yeast – there seem to be so many varieties and strains; what’s an amateur winemaker to do? Well, for one, you could ignore all the different strains and stick with Lalvin EC1118 which apparently is pretty standard in most winemaking
kits. Or, you can experiment!
But where to start? With dozens of strains, and dry vs. liquid yeast, the home winemaker is faced with an enormous array of choice and sometimes choice can be difficult to figure out. So what’s the difference?
Well, some of the differences include what the yeast strains can handle as far competition, temperature fluctuations, and even alcohol content. Some yeast strains do better in lower temperatures, some can withstand higher alcohol by volume, and other strains might affect the taste.
There is some debate on the affect of taste though. John Iverson, in his well renowned book, Home Winemaking Step By Step says, “Much has been written about the different flavor characteristics that various strains of yeasts impart. Differences undoubtedly exist immediately after fermentation, and they matter greatly to a commercial winery not wanting to tie up its fermentation capacity too long and wanting its wines to be marketable as soon as
possible. But the differences are minor from the home winemaker’s viewpoint. Two years after a wine has been bottled, I doubt whether anyone would be able to tell the difference.”
And yet Jack
Keller, the Internet King of winemaking sites, writes “Choose your yeast as you would choose a tool.” And then our own Lance Levsen HREF="http://homewinery.info/viewarticle.php?id=10" target="new">writes, “Liquid yeasts have much more choice compared to dry yeasts.” So what’s a winemaker to do?
Well, really it’s totally up to you. As Iverson points out, regardless of what yeast strain you choose, you can make good wine. Keller suggests that the more we might know our yeast, the better we might be able to make our wine depending on circumstances that we find. And Levson shows us that there is more to learn about this world of yeast than we ever imagined, if we decide we went to learn and experiment.
If you don’t want to try other yeasts, and are happy with what you got, then.. well it seems to me that is what it is all about, right? No hobby should be a competition about who knows what the most about tools, chisels, routers, or even the best wood for furniture. It’s about what you like, and what pleases you.
So with this in mind, we’re going to start a small series on yeast – and it will be very qualitative. This will be my experiences experimenting, along with what
the experts say are the “best” yeast to use for some given purpose. Your mileage of course may differ, and I should hope it will. Your tongue is not the same as my tongue, nor are your winemaking premises, demands, or goals the same as mine.
If you have your own advice, or your own thoughts, feel free to HREF="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email them to me and we’ll include them as well. This won’t be about being about what snobs or experts demand, but instead, what we find to be the best for us, and others can give it a try if they please.