Are All Wine Yeast The Same?

Wine YeastIn your article about making wine from Welches grape juice you listed Red Star Montrachet yeast. I commonly use Lalvin…….at the advice of my local wine shop. You are the expert without the profit margin and I as well as others would likely appreciate your insight on yeast. Are all yeasts equal? What is the best way to select yeast? Thank you.
Name: Blaine
State: Washington
Hello Blaine,
Not all wine yeast are the same. This does not mean that one is better than the other. It simply means each type of wine yeast exerts a slightly different character onto the wine. Whether or not that character is good depends on the type of wine being made and the personal taste of the person drinking the wine.
You mentioned Red Star and Lalvin. These are two different brands of wine yeast, each having several different strains from which to choose. So when you say that your local wine shop recommends Lalvin, it is also just as important to know the particular strain of Lalvin that is being recommended.
We carry both brands, but for the Welch’s grape juice wine we recommend Red Star: Montrachet. This strain is considered an “all-purpose” wine yeast. Its flavor characteristics are fairly well muted and it works very well in many fermenting situations. It has also been consider the go-to strain when fermenting Concord grapes (Welch’s grape juice is made from Concords). This is evidenced by the majority of Concord wine recipes you will find that call for it, both in winemaking books and on the web.
Lalvin wine yeast also has a strain that is similar to the Red Star: Montrachet. The Lalvin: K1V-1116 would work just as well as a substitute in this wine recipe. I would not hesitate to use it if I were making this wine.
If your local wine shop is recommending a different strain of Lalvin than this, then I would suggest that you take a look at the Lalvin wine yeast profile chart on our website to see if you feel their recommendation is suitable to your tastes. As an additional note we also have a profile chart for Red Star wine yeast that may be of interest to you.
I hope this information helps you out. Just realize that there is no one particular right answer when it comes to wine yeast. It’s more of a matter of personal taste.
Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.