Wine yeasts fall into three major categories: red, white and champagne. Within these categories, they may be broken down into sub-classes for non-grape or drier type wines. Depending on your needs, wine yeast can be purchased in individual batch packages, or in bulk. When purchasing wine yeast, either locally or online, always inquire about the expiration date of the yeast. Packages at or near the expiration date may not work as well as fresher yeast.
Determine how much wine you are going to make. You will need one packet of wine yeast for every 5 gallons of wine you make. As a rough guideline, every gallon of wine will need, at the minimum, 2 lb. of grapes. Wine recipes vary. Determine what type of wine you will be making: white, red or champagne.
Contact your local brew shop. These shops can be found in the yellow pages under Beer Supplies, Brewing Supplies or Wine-Making Supplies. Ask what yeast they recommend for the type of wine you plan to make. Find out if they have the yeast in stock, and compare prices.
Check online vendors that sell wine-making yeast. Often, their stock is fresher than that found in brew shops. The price can also be less than at local shops.
Purchase the amount of wine yeast you will need within the next few months. Like bread yeast, the yeast culture that ferments wine can die over an extended period of time. Individual packets of wine yeast will have an expiration date that’s longer than bulk yeast because it remains sealed until needed.
Store wine yeast packets in the refrigerator until needed. This helps to extend the life of the culture. If you purchase bulk yeast, store the opened package in the freezer to extend its life. Allow the yeast to come to room temperature before using.
Several brands of wine yeast are available in an all-purpose variety. All-purpose wine yeast can be used for grape, fruit or vegetable wines.
White wine yeasts can be used with red wine recipes, but will make a “drier” wine.
References and ResourcesUnderstanding Wine and Beer, Cornell University
Role of Yeast in Production of Alcoholic Beverages, University of Hawaii
ResourcesQuality Wine and Ale Supply
Homebrew Heaven Wine Making Yeasts