My Wine Stopped Fermenting Too Early!

Wine That Stopped FermentingI am making a wine with black and red currants. 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.
State: GA
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Hello Kelly,

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 5 days to 10 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.Shop Hydrometer

 

  • 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.Shop Yeast Energizer

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. But, if the fermentation is not complete, you need to figure out why, and then address that issue.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
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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.

39 thoughts on “My Wine Stopped Fermenting Too Early!

  1. Hi Ed. Love your site as I am just on my inaugural run at trying to make wine. I used fresh peaches, sugar, water, and yeast, and set it in a crock to ferment. The recipe I was following said let it go for 4 weeks before putting into bottles. It’s been 6 weeks, and at some point over the last week it has completely stopped bubbling. How do I know if it has gone bad? 6 weeks seems like a long time at room temperature not being air tight. I’m not sure whether I should move forward with straining it and bottling, or dump it and try again!

    • Elizabeth, typically if a wine has gone bad it will develop off flavors, a strange odor or a film may start forming in the wine. Generally, you do not want to leave the fermenter open any longer that 5-7 days before putting under and airlock and sealing it up tight to prevent spoilage.

  2. Mr. Kraus, I need a little help here… I just racked a batch of berry wine from the primary fermenter after six days (approximately 6 gallons). The wine was still fermenting but had slowed considerably. I transferred it to a carboy and took a reading of 1.014. I wanted to add some sugar to increase the alcohol content, so I added 2 lbs of sugar (in solution) and stirred. It “fizzed” dramatically but dissipated quickly as I stirred. I attached the airlock to the carboy and within several minutes it showed no pressure at all from within the carboy. Now, a day later, still nothing. It seems as though I effectively stopped the fermentation process… Any idea how I can re-start the fermentation? This is the second time that fermentation has completely stopped the minute I racked from the primary bucket. Admittedly I’m very new to the wine making process–do you have any suggestions? My temperatures have been consistently in the low 70’s, not sure what the problem is. Thanks,
    Zeke

    • Zeke, there may not be a problem at all. Just racking the wine will not cause a stuck fermentation. About 70 percent of the fermentation activity takes place in the primary stage, so it is common for the activity to slow down in the secondary stage. It very well could be fermenting away. To verify if you do in fact have a stuck fermentation, take a hydrometer reading today and then again a few days later. If there is no change in the reading you will know that it is a stuck fermentation. If it is stuck, I would go over the reasons in the following article as to the possible reason for the stuck fermentation. Before you can fix the issue, you need to know the cause.

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

      • Hi,
        I have the same problem, I’ve made Rice and Raisin wine, it was furiously fermenting in the bin, I’ve strained it and put it in the Demi John and there are no bubbles in the airlock. The problem I have is I topped the jar up with quite a bit of water as it wasn’t full, and I’m concerned that if it has stopped fermenting, I have just diluted the wine and it will be watery. Any ideas?
        Thank you

        • Alixandra, you don’t mention if you already have, the first thing I would do is take a hydrometer reading. It is possible that the fermentation is already complete. If you do find that it is a stuck fermentation, please see the article posted below for possible causes. Before you can fix the situation, you need to know the cause. As far as adding the water most wine recipes do allow for topping back up in the secondary fermentation.

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

  3. I have a problem My wine Sink was supplied with a short garden hose for a term now 15 gallons of Apple has garden hose hints I have tried sulfites wondering what else can I do ?copperKane ?filtering ?any ideas would be much appreciated

    • John, the odor is probably due to a slight bacterial infection. Adding the sulfites stopped it from getting worse. What I would do now is to degas the wine or rack in splashing manner. Once that is completed, you need to add more sulfites to drive out the oxygen introduced in the process.

  4. Hi,
    I’m glad I found your page. I made a batch of watermelon wine two days ago. I followed the directions precisely because I’ve read that it can be difficult to start fermentation fast enough to prevent it from spoiling. After about an hour it started bubbling. Today, no more bubbles. I took a reading with my hydrometer and it’s .992-.994. It definitely fermented somewhat because it tastes like alcohol. I guess I’m just having trouble believing that it could be done in less than 48 hours. Is that even possible?

  5. It is very knowledgable site, probably the best in the world for novice winemakers. Me personally I have learned A LOT from Ed, thank you thank you and thank you. This source will help you to avoid simple mistakes winemakers do have..
    But in this hobby you will face so many factors, so many things you need to know about…. I live in tropical Caribbean where temperature is around 75F at night and jumping up to 100F a day time. The grapes are not growing here, they like cold mountains and valleys. So we make fruit wine. My first a few years living here I was unable to make dry wine: fermentation stuck and yeast are dead unable to continue. Today I make dry wine SG = 0.992-995. Even professional local winemakers can’t achieve similar result. The fortified their wines with strong alcohol and this is not a wine, but Porto in worse performance. My suggestions? Like Ed suggested here a hundred times – you must have a hydrometer. Without it you walk blind in the jungle. Second – you need to know everything about your climate zone. The climate is everything, that is why wine of Ciicilia is different from wine in Parma… Big time! I would recommend Ed and his team to add more about the history of wine making in different climate zones. It will make site more attractive. Thanks for reading this bs of mine.

  6. I just made some pear wine along with 5 others. The pear did not foam at all 30 hours after adding yeast. All the others did. I followed the EC Kraus 5 gallon recipe. I admit I added 6 tablets of Camden because I was afraid mine were aged. I just did a hydrometer reading and it was at 90. What should I do? I am heartbroken as a good friend gave me these pears.

    • Lenora, if the fermentation stopped before it completed, you need to find out why it stopped. To correct the situation you need to know what caused the stuck fermentation. The article below discusses the most common causes of fermentation failure.

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

    • When you say “must”, I’m assuming you mean the pulp from the fruit. If that’s the case, there is nothing wrong with your wine. This is an indication that the fermentation is slowing down and about to finish. Of course, you should always verify with a hydrometer that the fermentation completed the job once it has stopped before moving forward.

  7. Hello I am in GB and am novice at wine making, I have made a batch of elderberry 6 gallons all was well until I racked off into demi johns, now my wine produces a bubble in wine lock approx every 3 mins, the hydrometer reads 990 should I leave or should I bottle, appreciate your reply.

    • Elizabeth, if the specific gravity reading is .990 the fermentation is complete. Once the wine is clear and degassed, you can bottle the wine.

  8. Hello again, after reading your site on stuck or sluggish wine, think I can see what I may have done and that is adding the campden tablets to the must before I added the yeast am I correct and if so can it be remedied. Thanks

    • Elizabeth, if your stuck fermentation is due to adding sulfites and not waiting before adding the yeast, all you need to do is add more yeast and this should fix the problem.

  9. Hello from England
    I’m a first-timer and have attempted apple wine from my own garden. It created a good must and then a week or so later I syphoned into demijohns. Not one bubble has bubbled! 6 days and nothing! I followed procedures to the letter so what’s gone wrong? I tested the ‘wine’ and the reading is 1.0. Advice would be appreciated.

    • Ann, nothing has gone wrong at all with your wine. It actually sounds like a very successful fermentation. The hydrometer reading suggests that the fermentation is almost complete already. Once the reading reaches .998 or less the fermentation is complete.

  10. Hello, firstly thanks for all the great resources available here! I have produced four gallons of wine from a vine in the garden, and after a successful primary fermentation of the must which saw the specific gravity go from 1.080 to 1.003 in 7 days, I pressed the pomace and racked the must into a secondary container. The specific gravity reading has now remained at 1.002 for 10 days or more. Should I a) troubleshoot a stuck fermentation primarily by adding some more yeast and nutrient to the wine and see what happens b) give it a coupe of weeks more and test again or c) add campden tablets and rack into demijohns? Thanks for any guidance, it’s my first ever batch!

    • Matthew, if the specific gravity has remained the same for 10 days, it is safe to say that the fermentation is stuck. I would take a look at the article posted below to help diagnose what is causing the issue. Adding nutrient and yeast will not hurt but may not be the solution.

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

      • Hi Ed, thanks for the response! Unfortunately I didn’t get a notification of a reply and my next steps were probably yet more antagonistic to the wine (which actually tastes rather good right now!). I ended up panicking about a slight translucent film on the top and adding campden tablets, then adding a strong 15% vol capable wine yeast 24hrs later, but no change in the specific gravity 5 days later and in fact the water level in the air lock was the opposite way round, suggesting the pressure was in fact less in the barrel than in the surrounding air. Again, just tonight I have racked off and added some potassium sorbate and sodium metabisulfite, with the thought process that if I can’t get this fermentation going again, maybe I should try and stop it further and be ready to bottle up in a week’s time and keep it in a safe place where if the corks popped out or bottles explode the mess wouldn’t be disastrous! Given the reasons listed in your article for a stopped fermentation, and what I have tried, my only thoughts are that yeast nutrient may have been lacking, but I assume I have maybe gone past any chances of now trying this option having added the potassium sorbate and sodium metabisulfite?

  11. I have three one gallon batches, two strawberry and one mead. I got the recipes from a website and followed very closely. The strawberry batches have been stuck at 1.021 and 1.023 for a month now and the mead has been stuck at 1.063 for a month. After reading the top ten failures article I believe it could have been one of four different reasons causing this. Is there any way to start these up again or should I just dump out and try again?

    • AJ, you should not need to dump the wine. How you correct the situation depends on which reasons are the problem. For example, if the issue is the temperature, just correct the situation to get it within the appropriate range.

  12. Hello!
    I’ve been reading through a lot of people’s issues with fermentation and so far none have quite resembled my own issue. I suspect I have a stuck fermentation due to inconsistent temperature. It’s a dandelion wine and had been sitting in a secondary fermenter for three months. It just cleared about a week or so ago. I racked it off the sediment into a new carboy and took a hydrometer reading and was getting 1.020. (I, for the life of me, can’t find where I wrote down the original gravity but regardless, 1.020 seems way to high.) I sampled and it’s very sweet. Therefore, I’d say it’s stuck. Although I felt I could definitely detect a decent amount of alcohol in my sampling. If I’m more diligent about controlling temperature will I be able to get it going again? Do I need to add anything else? Did I screw myself by racking off the sediment? Did I just add too much sugar (although I used what the recipe called for) and it’s actually done? And if so, is there any way to make it less sweet? So many questions. Thanks for hearing them!

    • Jared, there is no doubt that having a steady temperature will help but we do not know if that is the only issue. Without a beginning reading we have no way to know if it has too much sugar. Racking it off the sediment is not the problem, that is dead yeast. I would recommend taking a look at the article posted below on the most common causes of fermentation failure to see if something else is happening to cause this to occur.

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

  13. Help please! Making my first batch of wine from a combination of concord grapes I was given and additional purchased juice to make 3 gallons. I followed a recipe I found on line,. I started the must when the grapes were fresh and I didn’t receive my wine supplies with hydrometer until later so I don’t know the starting s.g. Today is day 21. I racked into secondary fermenter on day 7. It started slowing down a few days ago and today the air lock is barely bubbling. The s.g. was 1.052 today. I’m concerned it will stop fermenting too soon. The temp is 72. I think the sugar content was too high for the yeast but I can’t find instructions on how to get the wine going to completion.

    • Lori, It may very well be that you have too much sugar in the primary fermentation, and that is what’s causing you to have a stuck fermentation. But I would also suggest going over the Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure to make sure that it is not something else. If the fermentation does become stuck due to too much sugar, you can add a yeast starter to the wine to try and get the fermentation going again. The article posted below will discuss how to make the yeast starter.

      Too Much Sugar
      https://blog.eckraus.com/too-much-sugar-in-primary-fermentation

  14. Hello!!!
    I pressed my home grown grape with the initial Brix of 25%. After primary fermentation that lasted about 6 days, transferred to a carboy for a second fermentation. the hydrometer readings showed 0 brix. And after only 3 days during secondary fermentation there is no more movement in the airlock. i checked the SG and it showed 990. Should i keep it in the carboy or transfer to a clean one, since there is a lot of sediment at the bottom. Please advise.
    Thank you,
    Rafael

    • Rafael, The hydrometer reading indicates that the fermentation is complete. It is now time to rack the wine away from the sediment and into the secondary fermenter.

  15. Hi Ed,
    Is it possible for a racking to slow fermentation? I’m using a slow/moderate fermentation rate yeast for my Riesling. I racked after only 3-4 days during a steady and obvious moderate fermentation. I now see very little activity in the airlock and carboy and it seems to have really slowed down considerably after the racking. I was at 23 brix before fermentation, now immediately after the racking it’s down to 20 brix with very little activity.

    • Mario, the racking process itself will not upset the fermentation process other than it may take a bit for it to start back up again. If the fermentation does not pick back up, I would take a look at the article post below on the reasons that can cause a stuck or sluggish fermentation.

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

  16. Hi Ed,
    I started my first batch of your Amazing Blueberry wine. Today was the 7th day in the fermenting bucket so when I transferred it to the carboy, there was a good amount of sugar in the bottom of the fermenter that did not dissolve. I poured all of the wine back into the bucket and stirred it until sugar was dissolved, and re- racked it. Have I ruined this batch? Also, there was very little sediment in the bucket as I had placed all of the crushed blueberries in a nylon bag, so adding it back did not disturb any sediment. Thanks.
    Tena

  17. Ed.

    I started a batch of plum wine on the 2nd. When making the batch I mistakenly put the pectin enzyme in before adding hot water and cooling the mixture down. I assumed I killed the proteins with the hot water and added it again. I had no signs of fermentation and after 6 days pitched some more yeast after checking the sg was still 1.090. Most of the must has fallen to the bottom and just today I only see a couple of bubble surrounding the scattered skins that are still floating. Nothing to get excited about. I have stirred it three times a day for the last few days trying to encourage the yeast to do their thing with no response. The temperature has been optimal. I am relatively new to wine making but have had several batches turn out fine, so other than the enzyme goof at the beginning, my method has been the same. Figures this was fruit given to me by a friend from her orchard after hearing my previous successes. There is no alcohol smell and no foul odour indicating bacteria. So I am at day 9…..wondering how long I should wait before abandoning the batch?

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