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Elderflower champagne - can I speed up fermentation?

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johnsmith1212

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My first post here.

I am making my first brew ever. 2½ weeks ago I started ~25 litres of elderflower champagne with an SG of 1.069 and 11 g of Nottingham yeast.

It is however fermenting really slow. I get a bubble in the air lock every 8 seconds or so and it has reached 1.059 in the 2½ weeks it has been in the bucket. Temperature ~21C/70F.

From the very beginning I closed the lid on the bucket. I can see that many recepies says to cover it with a cloth for the first couple of days. I guess this is for the yeast to get going?

Can I somehow boost my fermentation process by adding more yeast now or is that too late because of the small amount of alcohol in the brew? Any other recommendations or should I just be more patient?
 

Redbird1

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Did you have a particular reason for using Nottingham yeast in a wine? I was not able to find much info about using it to make anything other than beer. I imagine the chemistry of must and wort are different enough to have an impact on it's ability to ferment properly.

Lots of people ferment with the lid closed the entire time. I don't think that is the issue nearly as much as the yeast you used. I would try to get a wine yeast like EC-1118, get it started with GoFerm or something similar, and then pitch it. It should be OK, even with a small amount of alcohol present. 1118 in particular is a very tolerant strain.
 

Arne

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What is the temperature of the must? This time of year most slow ferments are due to low ambient temps. Saying that,a slow ferment is less likely to blow aeromatics out of the wine. Might be a good thing with elderflowers. Anyway, to speed it up you might have to warm it up and maybe add nutrients. Arne.
 

cmason1957

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I have a friend who used to own a ferment on premises / new shop near St.Louis. she used Nottingham Yeast every so often, but always with more nutrients than might normally be called for. She often got 12-14% abv out of it somehow.
 

Redbird1

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I have a friend who used to own a ferment on premises / new shop near St.Louis. she used Nottingham Yeast every so often, but always with more nutrients than might normally be called for. She often got 12-14% abv out of it somehow.
It has an alcohol tolerance of 14%, so with careful nutrient protocol, that doesn't seem crazy technically. You might not know the answer, but the question I would have is "Why?". What would Nottingham offer that wouldn't have been achievable with a wine yeast? Nottingham is also more expensive than everything but liquid wine yeasts, which one would think would have been a consideration for her bottom line as well.
 

BernardSmith

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Cannot/won't speak for johnsmith1212 but often ale yeasts are thought to ferment more "cleanly" than wine yeasts in that they are viewed as not imparting particular characteristics from the yeast itself or hiding particular characteristics found in the must. You might be surprised to know how many brewers when they turn to cider argue that the best yeast for cider is Nottingham.

That said, johnsmith1212 - and let me welcome you to this forum - the irony is that I started a batch of elderflower wine in October and it is still fermenting at a crawl - and I used DV10 yeast and then some weeks ago pitched a champagne yeast to see if that would take over (champagne yeast is a killer strain that does not play well with other yeasts) and it is still plodding along. SG was 1.100 and today it was reading 1.046. I have decided to put this aside for a few months to let it do its thing and have started another (smaller ) batch of elderflower mead - using orange blossom honey as the sugar source and D 47 as my yeast. Had this in a warm bath (about 78F ) for a week and the gravity has dropped from 1.080 to close to 1.000 so this morning I racked this from the bucket to a carboy with bung and airlock. My plan is to back sweeten this with more orange blossom honey ... BUT... I have just this minute had an idea and that is to sweeten my mead not with honey but with this hobbled batch blending the mead 2: 1 will give me a mead that will have a sweetness of about 15 points (1.015) and if I up the acidity of the mead a little before bottling that might just hit a perfect note. Of course, for this to work I need to stabilize the wine to prevent the gravity from continue to fall albeit in slow motion..
 
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Redbird1

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Not surprised at all about Nottingham for cider. I've read this thread, which might be the best resource in existence for comparing cider yeasts.

I'm all for experimentation, so perhaps Nottingham is the next big thing in wine fermentation. Sounds like an endeavor for someone with more money and time than they know what to do with since there are cheaper, proven strains readily available.

In troubleshooting this particular issue, I still lean heavily on the side that the yeast used is likely the biggest culprit, especially if no nutrients were used.
 

BernardSmith

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I don't think the issue is the yeast but it could very well be the lack of nutrients. I doubt very much that elderflowers are high in the kinds of minerals and organic compounds needed by the yeast... and sugar ain't "nutritious" - It does not supply the sterols and other compounds that the yeast need to transport sugars through cell walls.
 

Redbird1

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I have no experience with elderflowers, so I'll defer to someone more experienced. That said, I've found almost nothing on the web about the successful use of Nottingham for wine fermentation, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen, as noted by the anecdotal evidence earlier in the thread. It sounds like one can nutrient boost it to try to get it dry, but with proven successful strains out there, which are made to handle wine but also struggle to get going, I question why one would try. I'm overly cautious by nature and would be very concerned about it stalling out, which would be trickier to remedy the higher the alcohol content gets.
 

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