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Old 09-17-2012, 06:33 PM   #1
acajka1
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Default Packet yeast and natural yeast

For years my family has made wine. I've recently gained interest in making my own wine. I looked at kits online which came with packets of yeast. When I told my dad about this he told me that they don't add yeast in there wine and do it "naturally." Could someone please tell me the pros/cons and similarities/differences in adding yeast and letting the grape juice ferment on its own. Thanks.

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Old 09-17-2012, 06:38 PM   #2
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I'm not a wine maker, so take this with a grain of salt. My biggest apprehension with letting anything ferment naturally would be all of the unknown variables as well as inconsistencies. If you use a professional packaged yeast, you know what it's supposed to do and the general profile of that strain so that you can be fairly consistent from batch to batch. Another issue I would be concerned with is the potential for infection or unintentional critters getting in your wine is a LOT higher. Not a gamble I would take personally.

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Old 09-17-2012, 07:56 PM   #3
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Out of curiosity, where do your folks live?

Because it's MUCH easier to use "natural" fermentation in Europe, where people have been fermenting things for centuries and the dominant strains of yeast in the air are much more brewer/winemaker-friendly than in the New World.

I wouldn't really consider using packaged yeast to be "unnatural", though. It's still just yeast. It's like cooking a trout dinner: You can buy a fish at the store, or you can go fishing up at the lake; the latter is "cooler" but less likely to succeed, and it's the same product in the end.

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Old 09-18-2012, 12:33 AM   #4
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My dad learned to make wine from my grandfather who was born in italy. I guess "natural" was a poor choice of wording. I was just curious if there were pros and cons to this method. Such as time,taste,etc.

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Old 09-18-2012, 12:40 AM   #5
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Grapes often have natural yeast (and bacteria) on them, and in some places that produces a decent wine. Most often, though, it doesn't and so most wine makers use sulfites to stun/kill and microbes and add their chosen culture of yeast. If your family has good experiences with using naturally occurring yeasts on their grapes, then you should too.

But if you buy a wine kit, it has been pasteurized so that any "natural" yeast will be gone. So if you don't add yeast to it, you will only get whatever spoilage organisms you happen to have in your kitchen to ferment (or spoil) the wine.

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Old 09-18-2012, 12:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acajka1
My dad learned to make wine from my grandfather who was born in italy. I guess "natural" was a poor choice of wording. I was just curious if there were pros and cons to this method. Such as time,taste,etc.
The earlier post had a valid point, in Europe, the good natural yeast was encouraged to grow. Such as taking a successful fermentation and spreading the spent grape skins around the vineyard, you are repopulating the good yeast and let it become dominant.

If you grow your own grapes, you could do the same thing.

Since you are making a wine kit, you don't have the yeast from the skins. If you let it ferment on it's own you don't know what is in the air. It could be good or horrible, really rolling the dice.

Use the packet of yeast and you'll be happy.
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Old 10-07-2012, 05:09 AM   #7
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We started our winemaking journey this year - no yeast, crushed the grapes to make our own must, and waited...it took longer to start the "boil" (4 days for some activity) - this is how I was taught by a first generation Italian winemaker. We used a 60/40 split of grenache/carignane and have so far progressed to the secondary fermentation, racked it once already (the lees were thick, and the airlocks were silent). We have had a sip of it, and to date, it is a zesty, young wine, that needs some time in the rack. Based on the sg readings we tracked, it is coming in at about 8% in is current state. It can be done, but it is risky.

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