How Kit Manufacturers Choose Yeast

Wine yeast — or Saccharomyces, which is Latin for ‘sugar-fungus’ — converts sugar into alcohol. While alcoholic fermentation is the most important aspect of winemaking, yeast does more than just bubble out happy-juice. It also produces compounds that influence flavor, aroma, body, structure and the finish of wine. Wine kit manufacturers are among the heaviest purchasers of winemaking yeast in the world. Commercial wineries buy 500 grams here and there, while others buy pure strains and grow their own in the laboratory. In contrast, because kit manufacturers have to include a fresh packet of dried yeast in every kit, we order our yeast by the ton! But what about the yeast that came in your wine kit? If you’ve made a few kits, you may have seen the same strain used more than once, or wondered who decided which strain was right for each kit? It turns out that wine kit manufacturers pay close attention to yeast, using a whole slate of criteria for their choice. First, they (loosely) follow the yeast company’s recommendations. Second, they run many yeast trials