Savings up to 30%
Savings up to 30%
It seems like everytime you google what wine yeast to use with your grapes, the recommendation is always Lalvin EC-1118. While it is a great strain, there are many more options that can help you enhance varietal characters, convert malic acid during fermentation, push out the natural fruit characters in the grape, and help you make your best wine. The beauty of yeast is that it determines how everything comes together, so you can dial in your favorite wine however you want it! This week we’ll go over different wine strains and talk about what to expect from each one so you can make the best yeast decisions possible!
The Champagne Strains and Why They’re So Popular
The joke around here is that everything says to use the champagne strain (Lalvin EC-1118, Lalvin K1V-1116, or Red Star Premier Cuvee) because you can’t kill it with fire and it will ferment absolutely anything. It seems like anytime you look up something on the interwebs that involve wine, mead or cider, you find recipes that call for one of the champagne strains.
As I said above, this is because it’s resilient and has a wonderfully high alcohol tolerance, up to 18%. What you need to remember is that, just like beer, you want to choose the best yeast for what you’re doing. If you want an aggressively neutral strain that produces a finished product with higher TA or titratable acidity, then this is absolutely what you want. This strain is pretty much a catch all for wine kits, homebrewed ciders, and even the majority of commercial dry ciders.
In my experience, the tart, green apple profile that you get from this strain calms down after about a year or so. If you have the time to wait, this strain is incredible. That being said, for me this is not the end all be all strain for every fermentation. Just like any yeast, it has it’s uses, perks and limits.
So What Yeast Should I Use?
The answer to this is absolutely ‘It Depends’. I know that doesn’t help, but stay with me for a minute! First, you have to look at what you want and what you’re trying to do. Making a pinot grigio? Yes, there really is the perfect strain to make a really great wine from those grapes. A cabernet sauvignon? Also yes, and in this case there are several depending what kind of cab you’re feeling. Let’s look at what’s readily available. Once you have an idea of what each strain is known for, it makes it easier to make a decision as to what to use for your wine!
To Rehydrate or Not to Rehydrate
Now that you have a better idea of what each strain will do, let’s talk preparation. Most of these strains, at least at the home winemaking process level, come in 5 g sachets. This means that you are pitching about a gram per gallon of must.
This is not uncommon nor unheard of. Not only are most of the wine strains geared towards simple sugars like fructose, but they are born and bred to be pitched lighter into these high gravity musts. But just because they are, there’s no reason not to baby them a little bit.
When you rehydrate your yeast, it helps wake them up and mitigate the shock of going dry directly into a high gravity must. The theory is that this will preserve cells so that they have the maximum number of healthy cells for replication and fermentation.
To maximize this potential, we use a little bit of warm water (~90 F) and a gram per gallon of Go-Ferm Protect. Go-Ferm basically encapsulates the cell and protects them as they wake up, providing easily accessible bioavailable nutrients in an environment that is non stressful, versus adding Fermaid or a similar yeast nutrient during actual fermentation.
Hopefully this helps you make the best decision for your next wine, mead or cider fermentation! You should ALWAYS play around with different strains to see which you like best. Don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with everything that’s happening at BrewChatter! Check out our YouTube channel, BrewChatterTV, to connect with us personally and get tons of fun and brewing knowledge! Post up in the comments below your experience with the different wine strains!!