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 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 subjective. 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 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.
I hope you enjoy the section on Winemaking Yeast!
Purchase And Storage Of Yeast
Purchase And Storage Of YeastReviewed by Ian Scott on Oct 10Rating: It’s happened a few times perhaps – you’ve got your juice ready to inoculate with yeast. You open the package of yeast and sprinkle it in a starter mixture, wait ten minutes and stir, and nothing happens. No foaming. Your yeast are not viable.…
Lalvin EC-1118 Yeast
Lalvin EC-1118 YeastReviewed by Ian Scott on Oct 10Rating: Lalvin EC-1118 yeast is considered one of the best all round yeast strains. It is a wide temperature range that it can work within, and a high tolerance for alcohol – up to 18% by volume. With very compact lees, it makes for racking wine off…
Liquid YeastReviewed by Ian Scott on Oct 10Rating: Many home vintners and home zymurgists don’t know about the single most important ingredient available for use in their home brews. I’m talking about liquid yeast. Liquid yeast is cultured in labs at all of the major labels. It is propagated from slants sometimes dating back to…
An Introduction To Winemaking Yeast
An Introduction To Winemaking 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?…
Extending the Life of your Liquid Yeast
Extending the Life of your Liquid YeastReviewed by Ian Scott on Oct 10Rating: Second part of this. I’ve already mentioned the benefits of liquid yeast. If you tried one in your latest must, or better yet, did a comparison, chances are that I’m be preaching to the choir. However, liquid yeast is expensive compared to…
Lalvin DV10 Yeast
Lalvin DV10 YeastReviewed by Ian Scott on Oct 10Rating: According to the Lallemand website, DV10 yeast: “DV10 was selected by the SOEC in the Champagne region and is approved by the CIVC in Epernay. DV10 has strong fermentation kinetics over a wide temperature range and relatively low nitrogen demands. DV10 is famous for its ability…
A General Look At Yeast
A General Look At YeastReviewed by Ian Scott on Oct 10Rating: If you enjoy wine and other fermented beverages, be thankful for the existence of yeast. It is yeast, by consuming sugar, that produce the alcohol in the wine. Of course, yeast also produces carbon dioxide (CO2 which we don’t want too much of, generally…
Co-Inoculating WinesReviewed by Ian Scott on Oct 10Rating: Some years ago, I was advised by a professional winemaker to use two different types of yeast when starting a blackcurrant wine. I’d never thought of trying this before, but I took the advice of the winemaker. The resulting wine was excellent! Some suggest that yeast have…
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