Can wine be made without yeast?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Can wine be made without yeast?

—Alfonza M., Whiteville, N.C.

Dear Alfonza,

No. The difference between grapes and wine is that a yeast consumed the sugar in the grapes and produced alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Now, you can sometimes make wine without adding any yeast. Eventually the native yeast in the air will do the conversion for you, and some winemakers produce wines this way, calling it a “native” or “wild” or “natural” fermentation. It can be tricky and doesn’t always work, depending on what kind of and how much native yeast you have. Most winemakers prefer to inoculate with a commercial yeast, which is much more predictable.

—Dr. Vinny

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