Wine wont Ferment?

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Wine wont Ferment?

Post by lizcrump22 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:58 pm

I had Cabernet Sauv grapes picked at an average of 23 brix. Crushed and destemmed, allowing them to ferment in natural yeast. Nothing happened. I used two different hydrometers and specific gravity hovering just about 0, no alcohol % registered. Tried adding yeast, nothing again. Tried to add yeast yet again thinking my batch of yeast was bad. Now they are in car boys, oxygen lock on, nothing happening. what could be wrong? temperature is at about 70 desgress. any help much appreciated.!

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Re: Wine wont Ferment?

Post by pclemon » Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:39 am

You didn't give any kind of a timeline on when you did all of this and how long you waited in between?

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Re: Wine wont Ferment?

Post by Brewtime » Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:27 am

if you were relying on the wild yeast in the air to start the fermentation it may take some time for you to see any signs.

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Re: Wine wont Ferment?

Post by dmtaylor » Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:05 am

Did you use Campden or sulfite? Maybe you killed most of whatever wild yeast was in there. Or maybe there just wasn't much on these grapes for whatever reason.

Is fermentation complete? Have you tasted the wine? Does it taste like fresh juice, or like 12% alcohol? I realize these are very basic questions, but they are extremely important ones if you want us to help you.

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Re: Wine wont Ferment?

Post by Aliraza47 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:14 am

There are more transfers that take place when making wine with these kids so you want to minimize your headspace once primary fermentation is done. Capable bottles may well work with a reisling that you likely won't store/age for any extended period but I would not use capped bottles with anything to be aged. Otherwise the same things come into play with wine as with beer - sanitation, temperature control, etc.????

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Re: Wine wont Ferment?

Post by borowik » Wed May 13, 2015 2:01 pm

maybe need some time?

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Re: Wine wont Ferment?

Post by Oprismth » Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:04 am

Temp probably isn't an issue. Hhhhmmm what about the steps you did for sanitation care to tell us those? Maybe there is a way that you are throwing the yeast into an environment in which they are being killed or already spaced out of. You say you started the yeast working a bit before you repitched? Well if they started working then you yeast weren't dead from the get go (unless the first pitched yeast was dead). I believe we might need a hippie van and a group of stoned weirdos with a dog to help solve this mystery :drunk: Oh yeah, how long has it been sitting? I've noticed that the brewing gods like to mess with my mind a bit, perhaps they thought it would be fun to pick on someone else this time and are playing with your lag time.

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Re: Wine wont Ferment?

Post by davidshanks1 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:15 am

Whether you rely on your grapes’ own yeast to start fermentation or you introduce a cultured, store-bought yeast to the must there are times when the fermentation just won’t start. That was just one of my problems to deal with this year.

The growing season this year in London was wet and cold until the end of July, fruit set was poor and we only had good weather at the very end of summer. My harvest was small, but for that reason it was comparatively ripe – 17-18 percent sugar in the Regent and Madeleine Angevine grapes.

So come the autumn equinox on a beautiful sunny Saturday, I went up to the allotment and harvested the grapes, brought them home and held them overnight in covered pails outside. That, probably, was the first mistake – to let them cool down again, because the weather that night turned cold and wet again.

On Sunday I trampled the grapes, brought them inside and waited for the little bubbles to rise. Nothing….I had prepared separate fermentation starter batches the week before for the white and the red wine (on how to do it, see my blog for 5 September 2010: Starting Fermentation before harvest), but even these selected ripe grapes didn’t want to start fermenting for the whole week leading up to harvest.

What could be the problem? Possibly, the poor growing season and especially the persistent rain has weakened the yeast colony living on the vines. The Madeleine Angevine in particular didn’t seem to have any of the characteristic white bloom on the skins when I harvested them. They were all shiny and translucent.

The other, and more likely, reason, why fermentation wouldn’t start was the cold weather that set in right after the harvest. Yeast needs two things above all to start multiplying and fermenting the sugar in the must: oxygen and heat. Once fermentation reaches a critical mass it generates enough heat of its own accord, and can even overheat. Much like a nuclear reactor. The oxygen, too, is spontaneously mixed into the must by the bursting of many CO2 bubbles on the surface. But if the temperature of the must stays low and the surface still the yeast will simply lie dormant. And there’s a danger that, the longer it stays that way, some other airborne bacteria will turn the must into an altogether unwanted direction of decay.

Solution? My first response was to take a large stainless steel pot from the kitchen, fill it up with as much juice and skins as possible and put in on a gentle heat over the stove. Stirring constantly I let the batch warm up to just past human body temperature (about 40 degrees celsius). Then I poured the warmed up contents back into the pail with the rest of the must, stirred vigorously and covered the pail again with a cloth.

Snug as a bug in a rug

In the case of the smaller batch of Madeleine Angevine held in the pail, I put it to bed for the night by wrapping it in a rug and surrounding it completely with cushions. The next morning it was fermenting happily away!

In the case of the bigger batch held in a plastic barrel, I waited till the morning to see if its contents – the Regent grapes – would start fermenting. They hadn’t, so after removing, heating and then returning a good portion of it to the barrel, I pulled the barrel over to the fire to stay warm for a few hours. Still nothing…for another twenty-four hours.

The barrel was too large to wrap up (I did consider the electric blanket in our bed, but that course of action may have provoked an outcry from my partner). And as the actual red grape must occupied only a quarter of the barrel, it also had a large surface area relative to its volume from which to lose its heat. So I emptied the must from the barrel into two pails, which filled them completely, wrapped them up like I had the white wine must, and in twelve hours time they were bubbling away, too.

So, I retain my faith in the grapes’ own yeast. And I am reminded once again to ferment the must in filled upright containers, to keep the containers warm, to cover them securely to keep the fruit flies out, and to plunge the cap at least every eight hours.

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