Making A Wine Yeast Starter To Restart A Stuck Fermentation

Yeast Starter To Restart Stuck FermentationThere are times when no matter what you do, a fermentation will not complete the task at hand. The fermentation seemed to be going along fine. The activity was looking good. The temperature was right. Then boom! The fermentation seemingly hits a brick wall and comes to an abrupt stop.

You check the wine with a hydrometer only to discover that there is plenty more sugar that needs to be fermented. What you have here is a stuck fermentation.

In most cases you can remedy a stuck fermentation and get it started again by going over The Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure, however there are times when there seems to be no solution in sight. These are the times when more drastic measures need to be taken. Namely a wine yeast starter.

A wine yeast starter is a very dependable way to restart a stuck fermentation, particularly when you know that all the environmental conditions are correct. A wine yeast starter is different than rehydrating a yeast for a few minutes. It is actually starting a mini-fermentation for a couple of days and then adding it to the stuck fermentation.

The best wine yeast to use in a starter to restart a stuck fermentation is Champagne type yeast. This type of wine yeast is better at fermenting in diverse conditions than most others. If you do not have a Champagne type yeast on hand, you can use whatever is available and still get positive results, but always use Champagne yeast when it is available for restarting a stuck fermentation.

 

How To Make A Wine Yeast Starter

For restarting 5 or 6 gallons, take a quart jar and fill it half way with the wine in question. Add to that, water until the jar is 2/3 full. Put in the mix a 1/4 teaspoon of yeast nutrient, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Be sure that the sugar becomes completely dissolve. Now you can add a whole packet of the Champagne yeast. Cover the jar with a paper towel and secure with a rubber band.Shop Conical Fermenter

Put the starter in a cozy spot at 70° to 75°F. You should see some activity within 12 to 18 hours. You will want to pitch the wine starter into the stuck fermentation right after you see the level of foaming in the jar peak. This will usually be around 1-1/2 to 2 days. Be sure to swirl the jar to add all the sediment in the starter to the wine must, as well.

Don’t worry, you won’t end up with anything like in the picture above. That’s just there for fun, but you should see a good layer of foam be produced before it’s ready to add to the stuck fermentation.

It is a bit of work, but making a wine yeast starter to restart a stuck fermentation is the ultimate way to go when you are having a stubborn fermentation. There are more minor things you can try first, based on The Top Ten Reason For Fermentation Failure article, but when push comes to shove, making a yeast starter is the way to go.
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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.

11 thoughts on “Making A Wine Yeast Starter To Restart A Stuck Fermentation

  1. Dear Sir/Mad
    I do not have access to yeast ,do you think I can make it?or make wine without it?or use other alternative as yeast .Thanks to your effort
    I am look forward to hearing from you
    Yours faithfully
    Keyvan

  2. Keyvan, yeast is the key essential ingredient necessary for a fermentation. The fermentation is what is turning sugar into alcohol. So yes, yeast is needed. You can find yeast naturally on fruit, but it also comes along with other things that can spoil the wine, so how the wine will turn out is not quite clear without knowing the condition of the fruit being used.

  3. I have been making wine from wild grapes with success for about 8 years now. I believe you left out an important step in the instructions for starting a stuck fermentation. When I have a stuck fermentation, I use Camden tablets, 1/gal., for 24 hours prior to restarting a wine batch. I do this because usually their is a reason that the yeast is stuck if there is access sugar and the camden tablets will get you back to a good restarting point, and should do no damage to the wine or not cause a delay since you are waiting on the wine starter anyway. Comments???

  4. Keyvan, you do have access to many varieties of wine yeast at the E.C.Kraus website that you are posting on. Just go to the top of the page and click on wine ingredients and select wine yeast, and ship to any address you choose. If you have access to the internet then any item you need is available here.

  5. Hi Ed,

    When I started my Blueberry wine the Specific Gravity 1.110, that was 40 days ago, since then I have tried four times to restart the wine.I have used yeast 4 times, red star premier cuvee yeast, yeast starter and Yeast Nutrient, and now the Specific Gravity 1.052, what else can I do, to have the wine finish fermenting?

    • Mike, there are many reasons that can cause a stuck fermentation. If adding nutrient and a yeast starter did not work, please take a look at the article posted below that covers the most common causes of fermentation failure. The first thing that i would check is the temperature of the juice. Before you can correct the situation, you need to find out what is causing the problem.

      Top Reasons For Fermentation Failure
      http://www.eckraus.com/wine-making-failure

  6. Pingback: 2017 Vintage – Zinfandel | LS Wine Club

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