Is yeast added to all wine?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is yeast added to all wine?

—Greg, Woolwich Township, N.J.

Dear Greg,

Yeast is essential to the winemaking process: It converts the sugar in grapes to alcohol during fermentation. But you asked if yeast is added to all wine, and the answer is no.

Yeast is added to most wines—winemakers will inoculate with a strain of commercial yeast (as opposed to native yeast) that is efficient or emphasizes flavors or aromas they desire.

But some winemakers prefer to use native yeasts (sometimes called “wild” or “indigenous”), which means they don’t add any commercial yeasts. Rather, they let ambient strains of yeast that are already naturally present in the vineyard or winery go to work. Some winemakers think these unique yeasts are a truer expression of terroir, or make their wine more distinct. It can be risky, however, as wild yeast fermentations can be unpredictable.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny Winemaking Techniques Explained

More In Dr. Vinny

What is the benefit of “keeping wine on the dregs”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what a wine's "dregs" are and why some wines …

Jan 30, 2023

How do you soften a hard cork?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what happens after a wine bottle is opened, and …

Jan 24, 2023

How long can Champagne be stored in a wine cooler?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what happens as sparkling wine ages, how long it …

Jan 17, 2023

I shook a bottle of wine with sediment and now it's cloudy. Is it ruined?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where sediment comes from, and what to do if …

Jan 9, 2023

Can a cork-tainted bottle of wine cross-contaminate other bottles in my cellar?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how and when cork taint or TCA contamination …

Jan 3, 2023

Dr. Vinny’s Wine Care Clinic: Top Tips for Safekeeping Your Wine Bottles

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny answers all your wine storage and serving questions!

Dec 27, 2022