Which Yeast is the Best Yeast?

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If you are new to making homemade wine, some questions which may occur to you are:
  • Which yeast should I use?
  • Is the one included in the kit the best one for me?
  • Is there a yeast type specifically designed for the homemade wine I want to make?

This article hopes to clarify these questions for you.

If you have purchased a kit, then a particular type of yeast was probably included with it. Using the included yeast packet is always a good idea; however, for some wines, what is included might not be the best yeast to use for the homemade wine in question.

This is because each strain of yeast was created for a specific type of grape. Different yeasts (even when used with the same grape) will give you different results. You could end up with one strain giving you a full-bodied complex homemade red wine which a different strain of yeast could produce a fruity-tasting red wine.

For simplicity and as a starting point, here is a quick list of the best yeasts (from Lalvin, Red Star and Enoferm) for the type of homemade wine you wish to make:

Lalvin Yeasts
  • ICV D-47 is great for your dry white wines and your ross
  • RC 212 is particularly good for a young red wine or, alternatively, an aged red wine
  • 71B-1122 is best for your ross, nouveaus or red wines
  • EC-118 works quite well for most wines but is best for a champagne base

Red Star Yeasts
  • Red Pasteur is great for young and full-bodied red wines
  • Premier Cuvee is perfect for a dry and medium-dry wines
  • Montrachet makes a good all-rounder and is good for dry white wines and aged red wines
  • Cote des Blancs works particularly well for ross and fruity wines

  • AMH, BDX and BGY are best when working with red wines
  • M1 works particularly well with white wine production
  • M2 is a great all-rounder for whites, ross and reds

How you store your yeast also has an effect on the taste of your homemade wine so make sure that your yeast stays dry. If you are going to keep store it on a long-term basis, then refrigerate or freeze it. Just be sure that you bring it back to room temperature before using it.

As always with making homemade wine, feel free to experiment. It is in that experimentation that some of the best wines are produced and, if you feel that a particularly yeast is not working for you, try another one. And, remember to keep a journal detailing every step and product you use so that, when a great wine does come along, you are able to reproduce it!

Cynthia Cosco is the founder of Passaggio Wines and is an award-winning winemaker educated in Napa. Through maketastywine.com she offers 12 month support on email and Skype to a book on making wine at home. To get a free preview of the book click here.

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September 1, 2013  •  12:36 AM
i'm making zin cab merlot what yeast is best
September 1, 2013  •  02:17 PM

I really like BDX for reds. You can check the Lallemand site. They have a pretty cool yeast chart...here is the link

July 12, 2015  •  11:35 PM
Any idea how a guy in the states can get ahold of some enoferm M1? making some black raspberry wine and would really like to use this yeast.