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Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure

By Ed Kraus

This is our David Letterman approach to helping you avoid having a fermentation failure. The following list is the top 10 reasons for having a slow or non-existing fermentation. They are listed in order from most common to least common.

1. THE FERMENTATION TEMPERATURE TOO HOT OR TOO COLD:
Wine yeast like to ferment between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit--72 degrees being ideal. Fermentations that are too cool may become very sluggish and quite often will not ferment at all....  More >>>

2. ADDING TOO MUCH SUGAR: 
Yeast needs sugar to produce alcohol, but too much of a good thing can be bad. When sugar concentration levels are too high, the sugars stops acting as a food source for the yeast and....  More >>> 

3. IMPROPER YEAST STARTING METHOD:
Many packets of yeast instruct the user to re-hydrate the yeast in warm water for a few minutes before using. When following these directions perfectly there are no problems. But....  More >>> 

4. SEALING UP THE FERMENTER AFTER ADDING SULFITES:
Most wine making recipes instruct the winemaker to add sulfites such as Sodium Bisulfite or Campden Tablets to the juice 24 hour before adding the yeast. This is to.... More >>> 

5. USING AN AIR-LOCK DURING THE PRIMARY FERMENTATION: 
During the first few days of a fermentation, the yeast is in a multiplying stage. It is devoting a significant portion of its energy to reproducing itself. On average, the yeast.... More >>> 

6. LACK OF NUTRIENTS: 
There are certain types of musts that present a real challenge for a wine yeast. When making wines from grapes and other fruits that are very similar to grapes such as berries.... More >>>  

7. FERMENTATION IS ALREADY DONE: 
In a twisted way, you may not be getting a fermentation because the fermentation has already completed. Many ask, "how could this be?" It's almost like experiencing an unbelievable magic trick... More >>> 

8. YEAST HAS REACHED ITS LIMITS: 
One thing that must be understood when making wine is that alcohol is a preservative. By definition, a preservative is something that helps a perishable to remain.... More >>> 

9. USING DISTILLED WATER: 
Using bottled water when making your wine is fine, and in some cases preferred, depending upon what's in your tap water. But, not all bottled waters are the same.... More >>> 

10. YEAST IS TOO OLD: 
If you have a must that has started fermenting very slowly or hardly at all, one of the many things you need to ask yourself is, how long have you had the yeast, and.... More >>>

I hope this helps you out. There are many more potential reasons why a fermentation won't start, but in my experience these 10 reasons cover over 95 percent of the situations we run across. Also, realize that it may be a combination of more than one of the above.

When you are done reading, be sure to check out our great selection of wine making supplies and wine making equipment!

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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.