I too am not Joe. I too was interested in yeast substitution for cheap wine kits and tweaking and found this forum. I have swapped out the EC1118 for other yeast types when I made my cheap kits. I used D47 for a Chardonnay wine kit, and after 7 months of aging in carboy then bottled got very good reviews from some diehard Chardonnay drinkers (not close friends). I used BM4x4 in a cheap Shiraz kit and Cabernet Sauvignon kit that turned out quite well as they were aged for almost a year, and both had a good mouthfeel and taste. I've used 71B in a cheap red and a white wine kit that I added some fruits and both were short-lived batches and easily early drinkers, aged 3 months. Note: I added a little oak during the fermentation, except for any wine made with EC1118 or 71B. Nothing wrong with EC1118 yeast depends on what you are after in your final product. I think (my opinion) EC1118 is more of a neutral yeast, meaning it's meant to ferment without adding or detracting away from the style of wine you are making. IMO@joeswine in the tweaking of kits with some notable exceptions your recommended yeast is normally the EC-1118 because it's a "work horse" and probably because it's easy and difficult to screw up (which is quite important for neophytes like me). However, I spent some quality time with the Scott Laboratory 2020 Winemaking Handbook and found that the only wine that EC-1118 is recommended for is sparkling base wines. My questions:
1) Why not use different yeasts that are more compatible with certain grapes? Yeast is a cheap tweak, with the understanding that there are other protocols that you have to pay attention to, like nitrogen requirements, fermentation temps etc., but those seem quite manageable in my opinion.
2) Would swapping yeasts affect your usage of Fpacks? For example, a friend gave me a boatload of ICV-D21 yeast which is highly recommended for fermenting Cab Sauv, Merlot, Shiraz and Zinfandel. If I picked up a cheap 5.2 liter Shiraz kit from Wine Lovers and decided use the D21 would you follow the same tweaks you would if you were using EC-1118?