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Winemaking Yeasts

Even with the choicest grapes there is no guarantee that you can produce the best wine.  The reason.  Yeast plays a critical part in the fermentation process.  It is a basic element of the wine making process.  You have to know about yeast and its impact on the final product.  This is because yeasts are responsible for giving a unique flavor, taste and aroma to the finest wines of Europe, California, Australia, Chili and other places across the globe.  If you are a new winemaker, you ought to familiarize yourself with the different types of yeast available for the winemaking process.

One of the most important factors in the final flavor of your wine you want to achieve is the type of wine making yeast you use.  In a recent poll the average number of yeasts used to obtain the signature hint and taste can be up to six varieties. The big problem is that there are hundreds of yeasts available for winemaking.  Because of this, I would recommend using the yeast that is paired with the type of wine you want to produce.  There are yeasts for white wine production or red wine production and you should start with these as a benchmark.  After a few batches you can start to experiment with additional yeasts to fine tune your vintage wines ultimate flavor.

For the amateur winemaker you only have to deal with six basic types of yeast.  The most common of all is the Saccharomyces cerevisiae variety and is preferred by people who make wine at home.  Coincidentally, it is the same yeast used in bread making.  Most winemakers use this yeast for the primary fermentation process.  If you want to make sparkling wines use Saccharomyces cerevisiae for the first fermentation process and a second variety of yeast for the second fermentation, which will produce the classic bubbles.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae is basic wine making yeast that has additional sub varieties.  The Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. bayanus is known as flor yeast and it is usually used specifically in the making of sherry and champagne wines.  Another popular strain of this yeast is the Pasteur champagne yeast used in white wine production but not Champagne production and Prise de Mousse which is a good sparkling wine secondary fermentor and available in most winemaking supply stores.

The Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. cerevisiae has additional strains including Cote des Blanks (formerly Epernay II) and Motrachet red and white varieties.  Motrachet is one of the most popular winemaking yeasts.  Assmannshausen is a German yeast strain used for Pinot Noir and Zinfandel wine production. Pasteur Red is used for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel wines.  Pasteur White is usually used for fermentation in stainless steel vats vs. wooden barrels.  Steinberg is a German strain from Germany and is used for Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blank and Muscat.

These are the most popular varieties used in home wine making, but there are many more available.  If you search the Internet you will find dozens of sites with detailed information on yeasts.  Most wine making supply sites have this information available.


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