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In this third installment, we’ll cover the last two key ingredients in great home made wines.

Pectic Enzyme

Pectin is the stuff that makes fruit gel when it is heated. All fruits contain some pectin, but no one wants jelly in their wine, right? Therefore, the pectin has to be eliminated.  Enter pectic enzyme. At the beginning of your wine making, pectic enzyme will break down the fruit to allow more juice and colour extraction. Then, it prevents pectin from clouding the wine as it finishes.

Wine Yeast

If the most important ingredient in wine making is the grapes/juice, then surely a close second is the yeast. Nature offers more strains of yeast than is possible to cover. For most of wine making history, the artisans did not even know that it was yeast turning their juice into wine. For less than 200 years have wine makers known about yeast in wine making. Since then, wine makers have been refining their yeasts.
Two key yeasts one will use in home wine making today are Lalvin 1116 and Lalvin 1118. These yeasts have been cultivated for their high alcohol tolerance, efficiency and speed of fermentation – a vast improvement over the wild yeasts used throughout history. For example, when fermenting 6lbs of sugar, roughly 3 lbs of alcohol and 3 lbs of carbon dioxide are produced. This ratio is much more useful in wine making than say bread yeasts, which are used specifically to produce the carbon dioxide in order to make the bread "rise".
Both Lalvin 1116 and Lalvin 1118 are Saccharomyces (sugar mold) strains. Both strains have high tolerence levels for difficult fermentation environments (such as high acidity or low nutrients), but have a small divergence in taste. The 1116 will tend to emphasize fruity flavours and aromas, while 1118 has a neutral taste and aroma effect.

That’s it! We’ve had tons of people in the store to pick up these ingredients as they prepare to harvest their fresh fruits and berries.  We’ve been asked time and again by customers if they can "skip" this or that ingredient. The answer is easy as soon as you are aware of why it was called for in the first place. Skip campden tablets and you’ll risk allowing unwanted yeasts and bacteria compete in your wine, such as acetobacter. Acetobacter eats alcohol and turns it into vineager – oops! Now you’ve got bottles of vineager instead of wine!

We hope the information contained here will help you make good choices in your wine making. Each ingredient has a role to play, and shouldn’t be skipped over without a solid understanding of why it is called for in.