Ask Wine Wizard

Yeast choice for a fruit wine


Josh Hemmendinger — Park Hills, Missouri asks,

I am new to the art of winemaking and have come to realize that there are many varieties of yeast available. I make mostly sweet fruit wines such as strawberry, watermelon, peach, etc. and was wondering what the best yeast might be for these types of wine.

You want to know what my standard, go-to, never-fail, keeps-most-wines-happy yeast is? It’s called Prise de Mousse, EC1118, Davis 796 or Premier Cuvee. Why all the names? I guess so a lot of different companies can sell it to appreciative winemakers like me. Whatever you call it or buy it as, make sure it’s fresh (never more than a year old), has never been opened and that you buy it in packets that are sized appropriately for the lots of wine you make. Once you open the packet,  store it in a cool, dry, dark place and use it within two months. By the way, these rules apply to all dry yeast. Prise de Mousse is an isolated strain of Saccharomyces bayanus and is known in the winemaking community as a workhorse yeast, i.e. it ferments cleanly, efficiently and with minimal problems. I call it my “no headaches” yeast as I can count on it finishing ferments, with no “stuckies,” year after year. It is an aromatically neutral fermenter, which, given your propensity for fruit wines, would be a good
Response by Alison Crowe.