winemaking yeast

Winemaking Yeast

winemaking yeast bubblesThe most critical decision that any winemaker can make is which yeast to use. Most experienced winemakers know that you need to use a good winemaking yeast. Whether you are a seasoned vet or a beginner, the choice you make in yeast selection can affect the final outcome of your wine. The right yeast can transform good grapes into great wine. If you’re new to winemaking you may want to take a look at our guide on how to make wine before diving into wine yeast selection.

What is Yeast?

Yeast is a tiny organism that feasts on sugars and converts them to alcohol and CO2. They are the miracle creature that turns are grape juice into wine. For a very long time, winemakers didn’t even understand that yeast existed. They would simply let their juice sit and it would magically start fermenting. This is because of the wild yeast in the air and on the grape skins that came in contact with the wine and started off the fermentation.

Yeast was officially discovered many years later and then we were able to cultivate it for specific purposes. In our case, we’re concerned with winemaking yeast strains. It took another long time for us to discover that different types of yeast can create different flavors in the finished wine. This has led to many different strains of winemaking yeast becoming available on the market. In fact, winemakers have so many options for yeast that it may be hard to wrap your head around. We’ve put together a selection of some of the most popular winemaking yeasts and why you might want to use them.


Red Star Winemaking Yeast

red star winemaking yeastRed Star winemaking yeast is a very good place for beginners to start. In fact, many winemaking kits ship with some type of red star yeast. There are many different varieties of yeast available from red star. Some are more suitable for your dry reds while others are better for whites or even fruity wines. These yeasts are easy to use and usually produce a good result.

Pasteur Red is great for full-bodied red wines. It does well with a cabernet or Zinfandel but can do well with many red wine varieties. Montrachet is your all-purpose wine yeast with complex flavors and aromas. It has a good alcohol tolerance and will ferment well. Cote des Blancs is a great choice for white and light fruit wine. It works well in meads, ciders, and whites such as Chardonnay or Riesling. It can produce a fruity aroma in both red and white wines. It produces slow to ferment and may leave behind a little bit of residual sugar making for a slightly sweet finish.

Red Star Premier Blanc has an alcohol tolerance of about 13-15%. It’s great for dry wines as it has a neutral flavor profile. It’s recommended for Cabernet, Cider, Dry Whites, Fruits, Meads, Port. Premier Cuvée has a high alcohol tolerance, up to 18%. It’s a clean and neutral yeast that is fast to start. This is the yeast you want for sparkling wines or to restart a stuck fermentation.

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Lavlin Wine Making Yeast

lavlin winemaking yeastLavlin winemaking yeast is your more premium product. They have many different strains with great characteristics for all different types of wine. Unfortunately, these winemaking yeasts do not have friendly names like Red Star.  EC-1118 is one of the most popular choices. It produces a vigorous and fast fermentation with low foam. It can be used for reds, whites, ciders, and sparkling wines. It has a neutral flavor profile that won’t change the character of your varietal too much. The Bourgovin RC 212 strain was selected from fermentations produced in the Burgundy region of France. It’s a moderate speed fermenter with low hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide production.

ICV-D47 is a great white wine choice. You’ll get a full-bodied wine with great mouthfeel. It will really bring out the character of your wine with flavors of ripe tropical fruit and citrus. It goes really well with rosé.  71B-1122 produces a fresh and fruity taste that is very aromatic. Good at softening grapes that are high in acid. It’s used by professional winemakers for young wines.

The K1V-1116 strain is a rapid starter that is capable of surviving in difficult conditions. Tends to really bring out the flavor of your whites such as Sauvignon Blanc. You’ll retain that natural fruit aroma long after bottling.  Lalvin BM4x4 is a blend of Lalvin yeasts that will bring out the best in both red and white wines. Your reds will have great color retention and mouthfeel. In whites, you’ll get enhanced fruit aroma and flavors from this wine yeast. It also brings roundness to the mouthfeel and facilitates malolactic fermentation.

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As you can see there are many options when it comes to selecting a good winemaking yeast. We hope this article helped to narrow down your selection a little bit. For the most part, you can’t go wrong as long as you pick a good quality winemaking yeast. Any of the yeasts listed above will produce a great tasting finished wine.