I started a 5 gallon batch of raspberry wine yesterday and I had to wait until the batch cooled down to add the Campden tablets…and I forgot. I pitched the yeast last night and about an hour later I remembered that I forgot to add the Campden tablets the wine, so I added them at that point. Now this morning I still have no activity from the yeast. Did I kill the yeast? Should I put in more yeast? What can I do at this point?
Richard H. — GA
From what you are telling me it seems like you killed most of the wine yeast.
When you add Campden tablets to a wine must it is to add SO2, or sulfur dioxide, to sanitize it. All the wild mold and bacteria are destroyed by the SO2’s presence. Given enough time, the sulfur dioxide will then dissipate out of the wine must as a gas and leave.
Campden tablets are added 24 hours before the wine yeast. This is so the wine yeast will not be destroyed by the Campden tablets, as well. In your case you added the wine yeast at the same time you added the Campden tablets, so it is most likely that some — if not most — the wine yeast was killed. This is the bad news…
The good news is that a remedy is very simple. Add another packet of wine yeast. The wine should start fermenting just fine.
If you have been keeping your primary fermenter sealed up under an airlock, you will want to take them off and allow the wine must to breath for 24 hours before adding the wine yeast. This is to allow the time necessary for the SO2 gas to escape from the wine must. Once you have done this, you can then add the 2nd packet. It will be like nothing ever happened.
Richard, you are not the first person to come to me and say, I forgot to add Campden tablets to my wine and then added them along with the wine yeast. I’ve seen this scenario play out more than once with good results, so I am very confident that your wine will turn out just fine.
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.