• Fermentation is the process of turning grape juice into wine. Basically, yeast + sugar (in the juice and any added sugar) = alcohol + carbon dioxide (CO2).
• We help this process move along by following the actions in the various steps in our instructions to create the best quality finished wine possible. Primary fermentation happens initially in the primary fermenter (clever name, huh?) and is where most of the action happens (bubbling, foaming, all that good stuff). Secondary fermentation happens after you transfer the wine to the carboy. In this stage, the yeast left after racking (see glossary) to the carboy is gradually dying as it’s consumed most of the sugar so it’s a slower fermentation.
First, check the S.G. – if the value is normal for the stage, just be patient and check again in a few days – good things sometimes take time! The SG reading is the only reliable way to tell if your wine is fermenting, as occasionally you can have a “quiet” fermentation (which is normal) and it won’t appear like much action is happening. If you have an abnormal SG reading:
• Check temperature - too cold or too hot? 20 to 25⁰C or 68 to 77⁰F is ideal
• Check yeast - was it old? Yeast is a living organism and will lose effectiveness with time.
• Was equipment properly rinsed after it was cleaned and sanitized? If not, the yeast may have been affected by residue left on the equipment.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a by-product of fermentation and will escape through the airlock after the wine has finished fermenting. Using a hydrometer to check the specific gravity will tell you what stage the winemaking process is at.
No. Our wine kits contain sorbate and are not suited to malolactic fermentation.