I am making the Strawberry Zinfandel Niagara Mist, for the first time. I have it in secondary fermentation now. It has 4 more days [before bottling] according to the directions. My question is, how do you know if it’s done? I’m using the glass S shape airlock, but very rarely have seen any bubbles since early the first day. Please help.
It is important to realize that typically 80% of the fermentation activity will be over around the 3rd or 4th day of fermentation. After that, the activity level dramatically tapers off and the fermentation spends the rest of the time fermenting the last 20% of sugars. So, what you are experiencing is close to normal.
Having said this, the only way to really know where your fermentation stands is by testing it with a gravity hydrometer. If you do not have one, I strongly recommend you purchase one right away. As far as homemade wine equipment goes, it’s probably the most important piece you could have.
A gravity hydrometer tells you with an instant test if the wine has any sugars left in it to be fermented or if the sugars are all gone and the fermentation is complete. For more information on the subject, you may want to take a look at the article: “Getting To Know Your Hydrometer” that is on our website.
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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.