Definition - What does Wild Yeast mean?
Wild yeast is a fermenting agent for wine, the most essential process in winemaking. There are different types of yeast, and wild yeast is a naturally occurring, often being a favored fermentation agent as opposed to inoculated cultured yeast.
Wild yeast fermentation originates from the vineyard and it is the agent that kickstarts the wine fermentation process. Using wild yeast in wine production improves the quality of the wine produced.
WineFrog explains Wild Yeast
The wild yeast fermentation process can take up to a week to begin. It is used instead of cultured yeast strains in the production of wine. Wild yeast is believed to originate from the vineyard- although there is an ongoing debate on whether the yeast originates from the vineyard, present in the grapes, or from another source.
The bacteria saccharomyces cerevisiae is the essence of wild yeast because of its alcohol tolerance properties and ability to ferment. Although the saccharomyces cerevisiae is very rare, it contributes towards the production of the best quality wines. Fermentation using wild yeast is believed to have added complexity, texture and finesse to wine. However, without close monitoring, wine fermented with wild yeast has a higher chance of rotting than wine fermented through inoculated yeast.
Wild yeast is commonly used within fine wine production, however, the risks of the production batch going bad are higher, lending more of the winemaker's diligence towards the overall quality of the wine. Possibly, the extra care taken to produce wines made using wild yeast contributes to the final quality of the wine.