Making wine is a lot of work. The fermentation process is both an art and a science and takes a lot of time and effort. A slow or stuck fermentation can be so frustrating and infuriating.
This why we’d like to help you avoid having a fermentation failure. Here are a few of the most common reasons for a slow or stuck fermentation process. There are steps you can take to fix them too, so pay attention and get back to wine making as soon as possible!
Fermentation that goes too cold or too hot may be a problem for you. Wine yeast is picky about its suitable temperatures which range anywhere between 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperature is way cooler than suggested averages, fermentation may become sluggish and even stop. Too warm—85 degrees and above—and the wine yeast cells are damaged and cease to have an active fermentation. Moreover, warmer environments are more hospitable to the growth of unwanted microorganism during the fermentation process. Having consistent and right temperatures throughout the fermentation is a must. Here’s how to fix this:
- Wrap your fermentation vessel in a blanket.
- Use an adhesive strip thermometer to keep track of temperatures.
- Allow for thermostat-controlled environments.
You’d think pitching yeast is as straightforward as it sounds; however, a common error that most vintners make is not checking the expiration date. A satchel of yeast stored at room temperature will instay active for one year. In a refrigerator or cooler, yeast can last up to two years. After that, you are better off switching out for fresh packets. If you think it is already too late, because you might have added expired yeast, you can solve it:
- Pitch new yeast not yet expired, add yeast nutrient and stir.
Too Much Sugar
When fermentation takes place, wine yeast is consuming sugar and turning it into alcohol. Therefore, the sugar content in wine is so important before and after it has been made. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to have too much sugar in a fermentation. The higher sugar concentration can start acting as a preservative slowing down fermentation considerably. You can avoid this doing the following:
- Before adding a sugar batch, inquire about the sugar being provided by the fruit.
- Rely on a wine recipe or a wine making kit.
- Use a wine hydrometer to tell how much sugar is already present.
- Feed sugar throughout the fermentation instead of adding all of it upfront.
Using Distilled Water
Using the cleanest water for making wine seems like a no-brainer, but this is a common misconception that leads up straight to stuck fermentation. Distilled water has the excess of oxygen removed from it, which is inhibiting on fermentation. Furthermore, distilled water has no minerals either which are also needed for the whole process. If you have used distilled water, do not fret, you can fix it:
- If you have already used distilled water, aerate the wine with a spoon and add yeast nutrient and DAP (Diammonium Phosphate).
- Try natural spring water or drinkable tap water. You can add some to the distilled water.
Must Contains Preservatives
Store-bought juice may contain preservatives such as sorbates or sulfites. Sorbate added to edibles inhibit bacterial and yeast growth. Sulfites on the other hand are meant to destroy wild bacteria and yeast already present in the juice. Sulfites dissipate over time; therefore, it is not that harmful if you have used it. At any rate, try following this advice:
- Check your juice before buying. You cannot ferment juice containing sorbate. Allow juice containing sulfites to breath overnight and add new yeast.
Fermentation Is Already Done
When you are not getting any more fermentation, you should check with a hydrometer before panicking. Relax, it is probably not your fault. On occasions, a fermentation can take off almost right away. Most fermentations take anywhere from 1 or 2 to 6 weeks to complete. However, if all the conditions are ideally met, a fermentation can complete in just seven or five days. The only way to ensure the process is finished is with a hydrometer reading. If your fermentation is complete and you are not happy with the alcohol by volume (ABV) or unsure of whether it is finished or not do the following:
- Check the seal on the fermentation vessel
- Take a hydrometer reading
- If unhappy with the ABV, add sugar, and use a strain of yeast tolerant to high ABV.
Stuck Fermentation? Never Give Up!
When juice won’t ferment it can get frustrating and disheartening for many winemakers and home brewers. Although on these unfortunate cases, the juice usually ends up being poured down the drain, there is no need to pour the juice down the drain. More often than not, you still can remedy a stuck fermentation. Grape by grape the vine is plucked and at Bodegas VEN we know it well. If you persist in achieving excellence you will get excellence. Keep doing what you love, keep making wine.
With years of tradition and experience in winemaking we are living proof. We stand behind our most recent international wine line VenToSpain. If you have never tasted Spanish wines before, it is never too late to give them a try. Are you curious about Spanish wines? Do not miss out on a wonderful Spanish wine experience.
VenToSpain is now available at restaurants, gas stations and other points of sale too. Visit:
- Entre Tapas Restaurant
- Madrid Tapas y Vinos
- Mobile Sunny Isles at Collins 18300
- Chevron Miami Beach at 401 71st St, Miami Beach, FL 33141
- A&G Mini Mart at Chevron Doral 2498 NW 87th Ave, Miami, FL 33172
Find out what VenToSpain has in store for you!
Sources: www.eckraus.com, www.homebrewit.com