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Troubleshooting Fermentation Problems

As we all know, fermentation is one of the critical stages of winemaking. Without fermentation, it is impossible to create wine. In some cases; however, you may find that you have problems with the fermentation process. Usually, these problems will take the form of either fermentation that just does not occur at all or else is too slow.

One of the reasons that this may occur is that the temperature was either too cold or too hot. Remember that yeast cells are live and in order to become activated they require a temperature that is between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, you should aim for around 72 degrees; however, if you drop below 70 or go above 75 degrees, you will have problems. When the temperature is too cool, the fermentation will likely not occur at all. When the temperature is too warm; however, the yeast can become damaged and will also perform poorly.

This is why it is critical to ensure that you have a stable temperature in the room where you ferment your wine. If the temperature in the room fluctuates, you will generally have problems. Basements tend to make the best places for fermentation; provided the area does not become too cool during the winter. In that case, you can provide a small heat source. Making sure that your fermentation containers are not placed directly on the floor may also help. You can also use a thermometer to monitor the fermentation. A floating thermometer can be placed right in the wine and you can lift it out when you want to check the temperature.

Improperly starting the yeast can also result in problems with fermentation. This is also commonly due to problems with temperatures. Most yeast packets require the yeast to be rehydrated, or moistened, with some warm water prior to use. Ideally, this should not cause any problems. That is, unless the water temperature was too warm. Most yeast packets call for the temperature to be somewhere between 95 and 105 degrees. If the water exceeds these temperature limits even just a small bit, the yeast is likely to be destroyed. As a result, it is unable to support the fermentation process.

As a result, it is important to make sure that you actually verify the temperature of the water before you add the yeast. In addition, it is important to make sure that you do not leave the yeast in the water for too long. Generally, you will need to leave the yeast in the water for about fifteen minutes. If you walk off and forget about the yeast and leave it in the water for even a few minutes longer, you will also run the risk of destroying the yeast cells. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye on the clock and make sure that the yeast does not remain in the water for any longer than 15 minutes at the most.

Adding too much sugar can also cause problems in the fermentation process. Remember that while it is necessary for yeast to have sugar in order to produce alcohol, you can add in too much sugar. When the sugar level is too high, it may begin to have a detrimental effect on the ability of the yeast to produce alcohol. This is why it is critical to verify the amount of sugar that is already present in a batch from the fruit itself before you add in any additional fruit. Remember that the fruit itself will have its own amount of sugar. This level can vary from one fruit to another, making it even more important to verify the sugar content level. A hydrometer can be used for this purpose. If you have not previously used a hydrometer it is a good idea to invest in one and become acquainted with it. A quality hydrometer can help you to avoid many of the problems that might otherwise ruin a good batch of wine.

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Important Tips to Follow When Storing Wine

If you’re going to be keeping your wine for any extended period of time, it’s important to store it properly to allow it to age to its full potential and further develop its intended flavour. Following a few simple guidelines will prevent you from storing your wine incorrectly and causing it to spoil or turn to vinegar. When stored the right way your wine will only get better with age.

Environmental Factors

Keeping your wine in a cool, dark, and humid space will ensure its composition won’t be jeopardized. The temperature fluctuations should be kept to a minimum and should remain around 10-12 degrees Celsius. Changes in temperature may affect the pressure in your wine bottle which could loosen the cork. A loose cork will allow oxygen to enter the bottle and cause premature aging.

Storing your wine in a humid area will keep the cork moist and prevent it from shrinking, which would allow air into the bottle. 50-80% humidity is acceptable and 70% should be your target. Too much humidity may damage the label and could cause mold to form on the bottle so monitor your humidity levels carefully as well as the temperature.

UV light can react with the proteins in your wine so avoid storing it in direct sunlight. Some bottles are designed to block these rays anyways, but taking the extra step to store it in a dark space will give you optimum aging conditions.

Bottle Position

Wine should always be stored in a horizontal position to ensure the cork is always kept moist. For the same reason as keeping your wine in a humid location, a moist cork won’t shrink and you will prevent your wine from oxidizing.


If you have a cellar, this is generally an ideal spot for storing wine. Keep your wine in an area with minimum vibrations and move it as little as possible. The spot you choose should be away from any strong odours as these can be absorbed by the cork and may seep into the wine, affecting any complex or subtle flavours.

Knowing in advance how long you plan on storing your wine can give you a better idea of where to store it and how adamant you will need to be in regards to the steps you take. If you plan on storing your wine for years, thorough maintenance and environmental upkeep on your storage space are very important to keep your wine tasting its best.

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