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I've been making beer at home for quite some time now and can definitely see the difference between dry and liquid yeast (especially in some beer styles like hefeweizen). In my area there is a long tradition of making wine at home (almost everyone has their own small vineyard). Everyone is using dry yeast. So, is there a significant difference between dry and liquid in wine making? Is the difference going to be significant only in some sorts like muscat or sauvignon? I think I'll definitely try it next season, just wandering what to expect.

  • This is a very good question, and one that I don't think too many people will be able to answer. Almost everybody is using dried yeasts for winemaking. I do not make wine, but do make cider. I think I used liquid yeast in cider only one time. It was not spectacular, not as good as good old dried Cote des Blancs yeast for white wine, which also works great in cider. Good luck. – dmtaylor Oct 7 at 18:58
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Some wineries which develop their own strains of yeast or allow wild yeasts to inoculate their wine.

The majority of the rest use packets of dry active yeast. Some may use liquid strains simply because those strains are only available in liquid form, but the rest just pitch dry yeast.

I also know of a brewery yeast biologist who has stated unwaveringly that pitching the dry yeast produces the most consistent results. Rehydrating yeast first introduces two steps of adaptation the yeast have to undergo, while pitching the yeast dry allows the yeast to just rehydrate and adapt to the temp and environment one time.

  • I'm interested in actual differences between dry and liquid yeasts in wine making. I'm in homebrewing for couple of years. My family has been making wine for a decade. Since there are huge differences in some beer styles when using liquid instead of dry I'm wondering if the same difference would happen with wine. – MaliMish Oct 8 at 17:41
  • It’s just depends on the strain of the yeast, not really whether it’s liquid or dry. If it’s the exact same strain, then they should generally speaking behave the same given the same conditions. Some strains come dry, some liquid, some come in both. – Escoce Oct 9 at 2:51
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    As a homebrewer I can say with absolute certainty that the above is not correct. Belgians with dry and liquid yeast of the same strain (when properly fermented) will never be in the same range. Same goes for hefeweizens. In these Specific situations liquid yeast just does way better job. I was just wondering if the same can be said for wine yeasts. Do I get a better ester profile? Lower alcohol warmth? I'm beyond the basics in wine making process and whole yeast situation and am interested in details. – MaliMish Oct 9 at 6:26
  • Ok so wine and beer are completely different. In the scheme of things beer is drank LONG before you’d consider wine worth drinking (there are some exceptions, I know). Wine is aged, for a long time. It has much higher alcohol content which means for various chemical process reasons it needs longer to taste good. The time that wine sits on the lees is helpful, whereas in beer you try to get it off the trunk and yeast as fast as you can (again I am speaking generally, I know there are exceptions. The best thing you can do is run test batches and compare and decide what works best for you. – Escoce Oct 9 at 23:44
  • Of course. I mentioned I'll do a test batch next season. Just wanted to know if anyone has any experience with it. – MaliMish Oct 10 at 7:50
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I owned and operated a small winery for about 15 years. There are two ways to get yeast into your wine. Dried yeast or the skins of the grapes. The dried cultures are super high quality so I would buy kilos of dried yeast a year. Worked great. My wines scored 90+ points many times in magazines like Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate. I have made wine both ways with native yeasts and cultured and I can't really tell the difference. Nobody I know in the wine industry used liquid yeast cultures although I am sure it's done.

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Biggest difference I noticed is the price. Liquid yeast is much more expensive.

It is also more convinient to store dry yeast, it has a better shelf life.

Liquid yeast might start to ferment faster (no starter required), but no big deal.

I compared liquid yeast with dry yeast with my last cider batch that I splitted in two. The liquid yeast resulted in a more mellow cider, but it might not be because it was liquid, maybe just the yeast strain...

You can try it, small differences are to be extpected, but nothing major IMO.

  • The problem using liquid yeast on wine in commercial sized batches is volume. When I make beer for 23 liters I am making a 1.5 liter starter. Imagine trying to do that with hundreds of gallons of wine. I know they do it with beer, but it's easy to make beer for this purpose, not easy to make unfermented wine that matches the exact profile you want. Therefore most people either use dried yeast or natural yeast on the skins of the grapes. Dried yeast has much faster response time due to the density of yeast cells. For home winemakers, this is not an issue – farmersteve Oct 11 at 17:37

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