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Yeast Starter?

Hi guys,
I’m a newbie wine maker, now in the middle of my second batch. I’ve been brewing beer for about 10 years. I’ve recently been reading and thinking about yeast pitching rates, specifically for beer. However, somehow the wine kits and what I"ve been told suggest that you simply just need to sprinkle the dry yeast onto the must. I’ve done this for both wines so far and fermentation has seemed fine. Why wouldn’t one need a starter, or even the need to rehydrate the yeast, for wine, particularly given the high starting gravity and amount of sugar? Do people who make wine more seriously ignore these recommendations and make starters? Is there benefit to making a starter for wine?

Aside from that, I’m now wondering the same thing about mead and cider, as I enjoy making those as well.

Thanks for any thoughts.


My understanding is that people typically use dry yeast packets for wine. There are enough yeasties in a dry packet for a HUGE block party. When people make starters for beer or cider they might be using a specific liquid yeast that will give them certain characteristics. Apparently there aren’t as many yeasties in a liquid vial…and you want a beer/cider to go off and running as quickly as possible…so you make a starter to increase the number of healthy yeasties.

Another thing is that there are a LOT of simple sugars in cider (and I guess wine also). The yeasties are more than happy with what they have to consume and convert as opposed to beer that doesn’t have the same type of sugars present.

I’ve used liquid yeasts and so far I’ve just dumped in the vial. I started a cider just a couple of days ago using a liquid yeast and the OG was 1.070. Within 24 hours it was starting to bubble. Eventually I could end up with some funkiness or a stuck fermentation, but it seems to be working like a champ. (without a starter)

This is just my understanding of how and why to use a starter. I’d love to hear from someone with different opinions.

Rehydrating is the most common practice in winemaking. Starters come in handy for wines that have perishable flavors and you need a really quick start to fermentation. Starteres are also commonly used to restart a stalled fermentation as long as the reason for being “stuck” has been corrected.

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