I am making a strawberry wine. I mixed everything together and the fermentation started the next day. But now my wine has stopped fermenting too early. It has only been fermenting for about 5 days. What should I do?
Name: Kelly F.
It may very well be that you have a stuck fermentation, and need to figure out how to get it going again. But, more than likely the reason your wine is not fermenting is because the fermentation is simply done. Once all the available sugars have been turned into alcohol by the wine yeast, there is nothing else to do. No reason to add more yeast, etc.
While most fermentations will last anywhere from 7 days to 14 days, I have personally seen wine fermentations be completely done in less than 3 days. It’s all just a matter of how happy you make the wine yeast.
To determine if your wine stopped fermenting too early or if you have a stuck fermentation, you will need to test the wine with a hydrometer. If you do not have a hydrometer, I would strongly urge you to get one. A wine hydrometer is the single most valuable tool any winemaker can have, and it is quick and easy to use.
- If your wine has a specific gravity reading less than .998, then your fermentation is done. All that you need to do is to continue on with any wine recipe directions you are following. This would typically be to rack the wine into a secondary fermenter and allow it time to clear.
- If your wine has a specific gravity reading more than .998, then you have a stuck fermentation on your hands and will need to figure out how to get the wine fermenting again.
There are a number of reasons why a wine might stop fermenting too early – too many to go over here – but fortunately you can go to our Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure. There you will find the mostly likely reasons why you have a stuck fermentation. The reasons are in order from the most to least likely reason. This list was culminated from our years and years of experience with helping home winemakers. Go over them and see if any of the top 10 reasons apply to this batch of wine.
In short, if you have a wine that stopped fermenting too early, it does not necessarily mean you have a problem. In fact, it could mean the opposite – that you had a very good fermentation and it is done sooner than expected.
Happy Wine Making,
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.