Is There Something To Add To Stop A Fermentation?

Mad Scientist With Something To Add To Stop A Wine FermentationHello,

At times my wine will appear to have stopped fermentation, and then after bottling it will start up again causing a big mess. Is there something I can add to the wine that will ensure that fermentation has stopped?

Albert W.

Dear Albert,

It sounds like you are experiencing a stuck fermentation. There are several wine making books that cover this topic in fair detail. One that I might suggest is First Steps In Winemaking.

A stuck fermentation is when the yeast stop consuming the sugars before the sugars are all gone. There are several reasons why this could be happening: lack of nutrient, lack of oxygen, too cool of temperature… For more information about these reasons you can read the following article, Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure.

A stuck fermentation can start up again if the conditions change. In your case, just the simple exposure to air that inadvertently happens during the bottling process could be enough to start the wine fermenting again.

Unfortunately, there are no wine making products that guarantee a complete stop of a fermentation or a re-fermentation. What has to happen, is the fermentation needs to fully complete before bottling. The big question is, “How do you know when the wine’s done fermenting”?

Shop HydrometersOne simple way is to take a reading with a wine hydrometer. The hydrometer is a simple glass instrument that can instantly tell you how much sugar, if any, is in your wine or must. Using the hydrometer is simple. You take a reading by observing how high or low the hydrometer floats in the wine. By taking a reading before bottling and confirming no sugars are present, you can bottle your wine knowing that it will not ferment later on in the wine bottles.

As a side note, once you have verified that the fermentation has completed and the wine has had plenty of time for the yeast to settle out, you can add sugar for sweetening, but you must also add potassium sorbate at the same time. Potassium sorbate can keep a fermentation in check, but only if all of the yeast as been settled and removed from the wine first, and the wine looks visibly clear.

Happy Wine Making

9 thoughts on “Is There Something To Add To Stop A Fermentation?

  1. I had this happen to my 2017 Vermentino In February when I bottled it. It had been sitting waiting for me to find the time to bottle. After a few weeks corks started to pop. Since I check the bottles every day no wine was lost. I opened a bottle for Sunday dinner and what I had was champagne. It bubbled all through dinner or until it was consumed.
    Every bottle however tastes a little different.

  2. I’m new to wine making and want to make a blackberry Merlot ,i have both Merlot vines and blackberries growing and would like to know what the best winemaking and recipe books are to get ,also if you have a recipe for blackberry Merlot.thanks for any advice

  3. Thanks to ECKraus , my first attempt at wine making has been a great success.
    I must add, though, that the suggestion to leave it age a few months has probably
    been a principal factor in the final outcome.
    How was I able to resist the temptation? Easy. I was away for the Winter!

  4. I like the way you help us about wine.
    i make wine in Tanzania east Africa by using Hibiscus,ginger,cinnamon an green tea. Welcome and visit me.
    My challenge were packaging,- bottles ,caps and seal .

  5. 5 gallons of wine which seems to have stopped working. It’s almost time to bottle but it’s a bit too sweet. Do I try to restart fermentation or bottle ! If restart, do I use yeast nutrients, ghostx, yeast energizer – and if so, which one and how much. Thanks.

    • Ardis, if the wine is still sweet, the fermentation is not complete. The fermentation needs to be complete before you bottle the wine or it could start fermenting again once bottled. That could cause the corks to pop or even worse, the bottles could explode. The fermentation is complete when the specific gravity reading on the hydrometer reaches .998 or less. Before you can correct a stuck fermentation. you need to know the reason it stopped fermenting in the first place. Please take a look at the article posted below on the most common reasons for fermentation failure.

      Top Ten Reasons For Fermentation Failure

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