I Forgot To Add Campden Tablets To My Wine!

Upset Man With Hands On HeadI 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
Hello Richard,
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.
Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
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.

0 thoughts on “I Forgot To Add Campden Tablets To My Wine!

  1. I have already added my wine yeast 5 days ago and realized I did not add my campden tablets at all. I’m getting ready to strain it, can I still add my campden tablets to my wine? before I put it in my vessel and put the sealed lid on it?

    • The short answer is no. You do not want to add Campden tablets during the fermentation. Doing so will harm the fermentation. Only add Campden tablets before and/or after fermentation. If you wine started fermentation in a timely manner (within a day to a day and half) your wine should be fine without the starting dose of Campden.

  2. Ok. Brand new newbie here. I started a batch of muscadine wine 4 months ago(using only my memories of my mother doing it when I was a teenager) and did not know about Campden tablets and wine yeast. I know, shame on me for not doing the research. Can I still add the Campden tablets before I bottle? My wine tastes WONDERFUL at this point.

    • Janyce, yes, you can still add campden tablets. Actually, we recommend always adding them at bottling time to prevent the wine from spoiling.

  3. Last week I bottled 5 carboys of assorted fruit wines and forgot to add Campden prior to bottling. The wine had aged in the carboys about 6 months….Thoughts?

    • Brian, it is possible that the wine will be fine but may not keep as long as it would with the addition of sulfites. There really is no way to know for sure. If you want to go to trouble you can put it back in bulk, add the sulfites and re-bottle.

    • Samantha, Campden tablets will stunt a fermentation and in some cases stop it all together. While a fermentation is normally slowing down or coming to an end at this point in the process, you are likely okay. What you will need to do is be patient with this fermentation. It could drag out slowly if there is still more fermentation to be done.
      At this point I would definitely take a hydrometer reading. If it indicates the the all the sugars have fermented, you have no problem at all. If there is still some more fermenting to do, make sure the fermentation does not stop completely. If it does you will need to splash the wine a couple of times then add a pre-started wine yeast to it to get it going again. If it continues to ferment, however slowly, just wait it out.
      Here’s some more info for you:
      How To Save A Wine With Too Much Sulfite
      This article shows how to get the sulfite from the Campden tablets out of the wine. But you should only do this if the fermentation stops completely.
      Making A Wine Yeast Starter To Restart A Stuck Fermentation