Yeast for wine: how to choose, use and store at home - Alcohol and Tradition

Yeast for wine: how to choose, use and store at home

сухие винные дрожжи

Called a wine yeast, which were isolated from grapes or the fermenting of the wort. These strains are used not only for making wine, but also for fruit distillates. Depending on the method of production, wine yeast is conditionally divided into two types: home-made and store-bought.

Home propagated by making a starter culture of yeast races living on the surface of berries and fruits (not just grapes). The process is random, since it is impossible to isolate and propagate only one race, often there are two or more yeast races in the leaven at the same time, which compete with each other.

Store-bought-the best strains, selected and bred in the laboratory, contain only one race of yeast, the characteristics of which are well known. Such yeast is usually delivered in dry form in bags together with top dressing – a set of trace elements that contribute to the rapid activation, reproduction and fermentation of sugars by a specific strain of yeast.

Advantages of store-bought wine yeast over home-made ones:

  • they allow you to more accurately control the organoleptic properties of the drink: taste, aroma, color, strength, etc.;
  • do not need a long pre-activation (the process of preparing the starter lasts 3-5 days and there is no guarantee of a positive result);
  • under the recommended conditions and the sterility of the containers, fermentation on store-bought wine yeast is smooth and stable, less foam is released, and the risk of infection of the wort with pathogenic microorganisms is minimal.

Attention! For the preparation of wine, only wine yeast is suitable, they are also recommended for fruit and berry brags. Other types of yeast (alcoholic, beer, bakery) give too strong bitterness and a distinct smell of alcohol, so they are not used in the production of wine. At the same time, it is pointless to add wine yeast to sugar and grain brews – the fermentation period will increase, but the moonshine will not get better.

как пользоваться винными дрожжами

Wine yeast is recommended for any fruit raw materials

How to choose the right yeast for wine

Strains of wine yeast differ from each other in the place of collection (region) and the specifics of the action – unique properties. The place of collection is important only if you want to get a wine that is historically characteristic of a particular area. For example, for the preparation of Burgundy wines, yeast collected in local vineyards is traditionally used. At the same time, most professional winemakers ignore the region, relying only on the characteristics of a particular strain.

Types of wine yeast

Depending on the specifics of the action, wine yeast is divided into the following main groups::

  • intended use: for red and white wines, champagne, cider, sherry, etc.;
  • fast and slow fermentation – the duration of fermentation affects both the organoleptic properties and the speed of wine preparation. At the same time, rapid fermentation is not always a positive result – sometimes it is required that the wort ferment longer and is enriched with complex compounds;
  • heat-and cold-resistant – able to withstand a range of temperatures at which other similar strains die or go into a state of suspended animation. Such yeast is useful if it is not possible to create optimal conditions for fermentation – the room is too hot or cold;
  • alcohol-resistant-most wine strains stop working when the alcohol content in the wort is 12-14%, but some races can withstand an ethanol concentration of 16% or more. Basically, the alcohol-resistant type is used for the preparation of sherry and other fortified wines.
  • accumulating secondary and by-products of fermentation – these compounds and substances that appear during the fermentation of a particular strain, they significantly affect the aroma and taste of young wines;
  • acid-resistant – used if the wort has an increased acidity;
  • other properties of yeast: foam-resistant, sulfite-resistant, capable of rapid clarification of wine materials, etc.

In practice, first determine the characteristics of the future drink, then select the appropriate type of yeast. For grape wines, it is advisable to focus not only on the color of the berries (white or red), but also, if possible, use yeast for a specific grape variety. For apple wines, wine yeast is ideally suited, which can process an increased concentration of malic acid. For other fruit or berry raw materials (cherries, currants, strawberries, raspberries, apricots, gooseberries, etc.), you can take any neutral (universal) strains. Ideally, if the juice is light – for white wines, if dark – for red.

Brands of wine yeast

The following producers have earned good reviews among home winemakers: Lalvin, Red Star, SP, Muntons Gervin, White Labs, Wyeast, etc., you can also use Belarusian wine yeast.

Instructions for use of wine yeast

Since the selected strain may require specific conditions, it is best to use wine yeast according to the manufacturer’s instructions (should be indicated on the bag).

If there are no recommendations on the package, then you can use the universal method:

  1. Heat the water to +30-32 °C. One part of yeast in grams requires 10 parts of water in milliliters, you can also add sugar-3-5% of the amount of water. Often 5 grams of yeast is enough to ferment 15-20 liters of wort.
  2. Sterilize with boiling water a glass container for breeding yeast, then pour in warm water, add yeast. Stir until completely dissolved.
  3. Leave at room temperature for 20-25 minutes (no longer than 45 minutes). Do not close the lid.
  4. Add activated (rehydrated) wine yeast to the wort, which has a sugar content of 14-20%. The difference between the temperature of the wort and the solution should not exceed 10 degrees, otherwise the yeast will receive a temperature shock. Mix, close with a water seal.

как активировать винные дрожжи

After rehydration, you should see a foam

The instructions on the bag may differ from the specified one, always follow the recommendations of the yeast manufacturer.


Most wine yeast comes in sealed polymer bags with a gas chamber inside. Shelf life in a cool dry place (up to +25 °C) with tightness-up to 2 years.

It is advisable to use the opened package for six months and store it in the refrigerator, wrapped in polyethylene.

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