The history of fruit wine may feature fruit, but it has always included yeast. They are the conversion factor that turns sugar into alcohol. Yeast also come in a huge diversity that can yield a nearly endless variety of wine profiles. Some yeasts are super aggressive while some are extremely sensitive to temperature & need to be closely monitored. When it comes to fruit wine some yeasts work better with certain kinds of fruit. They either react to each other well or the fruit compliments a certain wine profile that the yeast produces.
Pairing Yeasts With Fruit
Montrachet is a very good dry yeast to use for fruit wine. It has a broad appeal & is very dependable. When in doubt use this yeast. It is one of the more neutral yeasts available, ferments quickly & allows the flavor of the fruit to be more present in the wine. For optimum fermentation keep between 59-86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Red Star Cote des Blancs is a dry yeast strain that works well with apples, plums, pears or fruits that produce a white wine profile. This yeast is known to take its time during fermentation. When fermenting make certain to keep your temperature between 64-86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Red Star Premier Rouge is a dry yeast strain that produces very good red wines. When creating fruit wines it works well with raspberries, huckleberries, blackberries, or peaches. Ferment at 59-86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Red Star Pasteur Blanc is a yeast strain that creates a very dry apple wine. Use this yeast when it’s difficult to begin a fermentation. The extra aggressive nature of this strain allows the yeast to overcome less than ideal fermentation conditions. It works well with high acid fruits.
Don’t be afraid to try different strains of yeast because the yeast can play a large role in the final profile of your wine. Each person is different in what they look for in a wine, and the yeast can make it possible for you to find that exact profile that you were looking for. There is no rule that says you can't use a Pasteur Red yeast to make an apple wine. Give it a try; you might be surprised with the results.
A lot of people never think about what type of yeast to use with their wine. We believe that is because adding yeast to make wine is a relatively new concept. Years ago wine makers would place their fruit in a crock, or container, leave it open to the air and let what yeast was floating around start the fermentation. There are some obvious draw backs to this, but many people made wine this way up to the 1960s and 1970s. Some people continue to make wine this way.
We do not recommend making wine in this fashion for many reasons, but here are just a few for you:
- The wine does not always ferment. This is a very common issue when relying on airborne yeast to ferment anything.
- The fruit goes bad before the wine starts to ferment. No CO2 to protect the fruit will lead to a strong chance that the fruit will rot before you even start the wine making process.
- A bacterium is introduced before the juice begins to ferment. Now all you have is nasty vinegar that you shouldn’t use.
- Bugs carry the yeast to the fruit. Does anyone really want bugs to help make their wine? Children not included.
So, now you want to make wine, but you’ve got Grandpa’s old recipe which just says to leave the container open and it will start to ferment on its own. What do you do? Simple, you mix everything together just as Grandpa's recipe says, but you add your own yeast to the juice.
Hint: In addition to adding yeast, make sure you use a lid and an Airlock on your fermenter to prevent nasty things like bugs or bacteria from ruining your wine.
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