The Strain Game

Wine is made in the vineyard. “It’s the terroir,” the French will say. Or is it the winemaker’s craftsmanship that makes the wine? What gives wine its bouquet, aroma, structure and balance? That’s a much-debated topic in winemaking circles. In spite of the many opinions, no one can dispute this fact: You need to select the right kind of yeast for the style of wine you want to make. Yet choosing the proper yeast should not be a daunting task — with proper planning it’s easy to achieve the desired results. Yeasts are essentially fungi found in, and then isolated from, such environments as soil, plants and fruits. Specific yeasts — called “strains” — have different morphological (physical appearance) and physiological attributes that characterize their behavior during the fermentation process. Different yeast strains will therefore produce wines with different characteristics, such as aromas, alcohol level, acidity and body. First, you need to determine the type of wine you wish to produce. Will it be red, white, rosé, dessert? The desired style is based on the many factors: the varietal used;