Can You Use Bread Yeast to Make Wine?

You want to make a delicious batch of wine using your very own ingredients. But disaster has struck! You’ve started the process only to find that you’re out of wine yeast.

Then you notice the bread yeast lurking at the back of your pantry. You can use this instead, surely?

Actually, you’ll be better off leaving that bread yeast where it is on your shelf. That’s because bread yeast cannot be used to make wine.

The yeast will ferment somewhat when you add it to your ingredients, however, it hasn’t been designed for use with alcohol. 

The alcohol in your homemade wine will actually kill off the bread yeast so it won’t ferment properly, leaving you with a sweet, low gravity drink that is nowhere near the quality you’re after.

Bread yeast tends to die off once the alcohol content of your wine has reached around 10%.

So no, you can’t use bread yeast to make wine. You’ll be better off heading to the shops to stock up on the missing wine yeast that you need!

What is the difference between wine yeast and bread yeast?

The main difference between wine yeast and bread yeast is that they have been developed for different tasks.

Over the years, different varieties of yeast have been bred to achieve these different purposes, such as making bread rise, making alcohol for wine, and many more. We wouldn’t recommend trying to swap one for the other.

Wine yeast has been developed so that it can handle the higher alcohol content needed for making wine. This typically is between 10% to 15% depending on the wine you’re making.

There are even some special yeasts that have been developed for port and champagne which are capable of tolerating alcohol content of up to 17% or 18%.

If you want to preserve your homemade wine for a few years, then it will need to have an alcohol content of at least 10%.

As we’ve mentioned in more detail above, bread yeast will struggle to get your wine’s alcohol content above 10%.

Once the alcohol content reaches 10%, the bread yeast will start to die off, and the wine won’t be able to ferment properly.

Bread yeast prefers the nutrients found in grains and bread doughs, whereas wine yeast can cope with the nutrients provided by fruit.

Another factor which sets the two yeasts apart is that wine yeast can separate from your wine more easily than bread yeast can.

Wine yeast will start to clump together – a process called flocculation – and will start to settle to the bottom of your bottle. Bread yeast isn’t able to achieve this process, so will settle throughout your wine in a fine haze.

This means that the separation process can take weeks instead of the days that wine yeast achieves.

How long does it take for wine yeast to start working?

Once you’ve added your wine yeast to your ingredients, you will of course be impatient for the fermentation process to get underway.

Your wine yeast can take anything up to 36 hours before it will start to show signs of fermentation. It normally takes around 8 hours on average to start fermenting your wine.

The length of the fermentation process will differ depending on the factors that are in play. Temperature is of course the most important factor, as your wine will need to be between 70℉ and 75℉.

You should be able to tell that your wine yeast has started to ferment the wine when you see little patches of bubbles start to appear. These are usually on the surface of your wine.

Eventually, these bubbly patches will start to develop into a thin layer of fine bubbles over the entire surface of your wine.

How long does bread yeast take to ferment alcohol?

You’ll be waiting for much longer if you use bread yeast to ferment alcohol in your wine. This process will typically be elongated to around 14 days.

It will also depend on the temperature that you’re keeping your wine at. If you were to try and remove the bread yeast from your wine after 3 or 4 days, the alcohol content would only be around 5%.

It’s important to remember that bread yeast isn’t very tolerant of alcohol. You may think that you’re making a clever substitution if you haven’t got any wine yeast in your pantry.

However, it will leave you with much weaker wine that likely won’t taste as nice. If you want to use yeast to create alcohol, it will be worth being patient and stocking up on some wine yeast for you to use.

Will active dry yeast make alcohol?

Dry yeast or bread yeast can be used to make alcohol, however, the content will be much lower than if you use wine yeast. Yeast works by converting sugar into alcohol.

When this is used in the bread making process, the gases produced by the yeast during this causes the bread to rise. However, the alcohol content is much smaller when making bread, and will typically get burned off while the bread cooks in the oven.

If you use bread yeast to make alcohol in your wine, you should be prepared to have a wine that has a much lower alcohol content than you were expecting.

In summary

So there you have it! Even though they share a name, bread yeast and wine yeast are very different beasts. You can’t actually use bread yeast to make wine because it can’t cope with the high alcohol content. Once your wine reaches around 10% alcohol content, the bread yeast will start to die off, leaving you with inferior tasting wine.

Christina Day
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