As you probably know by now if you’ve begun looking at wine making kits, there is more to making wine than simply getting some wine making supplies and grape juice together. While the process of turning grapes into wine may seem magical (and many a wine lover will tell you that there is indeed something magical about the vintner’s art), it is a humble single-celled organism which makes this wondrous transformation happen. While it’s not the same strain precisely, yeast makes all the difference with wine just as it does with bread – and the way that it all happens is just as fascinating.
Yeast and Fermentation
Yeast is a fungus which uses the sugars and other nutrients in your grape juice or other fruit juices as a food source. As the yeast feeds on these nutrients, something very interesting happens. The yeast digests the sugars present in the raw materials, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide – and this is why you’ll notice a lot of bubbling and fizzing going on in the fermentation vessel of wine making kits, particularly in the first couple of days of the process.
Not just any yeast will do for wine making either; various strains of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae type of yeast are generally used for fermenting wine. However, there are other types which are occasionally used for wine making due to the characteristics that they can impart to the finished wine.
There are also varieties of yeast which are definitely undesirable and should be kept well away from wine making kits and other wine making setups. These include Brettanomyces and Zygosaccharomyces, which can actually stop the fermentation process when introduced to the fermenting vessel and result in spoilage. Keeping your wine making supplies clean with thorough washing and sanitizing before and after making each batch of wine can help keep these not so helpful organisms from gaining a foothold on your home wine making setup.
Buying Yeast for Wine Making
For millennia, wine was fermented using the wild yeasts naturally present on grapes and many other types of fruit. However, commercially available packaged yeast is now the ingredient of choice for both commercial and hobby wine makers due to the wildly varying results achieved by using wild yeasts alone. There is far too high a degree of spoilage, as you can probably imagine when fermenting with yeasts which may not be suitable for wine making (or that may not be present in amounts high enough to ensure a successful fermentation). Ever since the advent of prepackaged yeast for wine making, the state of the art in vintning has steadily advanced. With wine making supplies and pre-made wine making kits being so widely available now, it’s become easy for anyone to make their own wine – using the right yeast, of course.