WineXpert stuck fermentation

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Feb 8, 2010
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I am processing two batches: Winexperts Pinot Gris and Stags Leap Merlot. I completed step #1 on both batches at the same time, Sunday 3-13-10.

The Pinot is fermenting but not the Merlot. The only difference in the batches was the 120 gr of oak for the Merlot. I did stir it under, but some of the chips were floating on top of the juice when I sprinkled the yeast. I wonder if that would cause the lack of fermentation...

I would appreciate your comments. The room temp is 70 degrees and constant.


If you started it on Sunday 3/14, it should start by tonight. I guess it is possible that all the yeast is setting on top of the oak and never got into the must enough to start fermentation. However, I wonder if that is likely.

70 is a little low for me, but most yeasts will work at that low temp. I am assuming the yeast is EC 1118.

I'd go ahead right now and call the shop where you bought the kit.

If you can't, go in and "lightly" stir the oak back into the must. Try to raise the temp a few degrees with a brew belt or a heating pad, if you have one of them.

If it doesn't start by Wednesday morning, I'd again call the shop where you bought the kit.

I always do a yeast starter to make sure my yeast is healthy and ready to go before I pitch it. There are several web sites that explain how to do it.

Good luck
Specific gravities would be nice. What are the temperatures of the musts/wines?

Please note that visual signs of fermentation are next to useless. Some musts ferment quietly, and some musts are slow to start. Just be patient.

And yes, sprinkling the yeast on top of the oak, may delay the yeast getting started because it doesn't hydrate as quickly.

BTW, this isn`t a stuck ferment. If anything it`s a ferment that hasn`t started yet.

That kit uses Lalvin RC-212 yeast. Slightly tighter tolerances, "increases varietal character", and slower fermentor than the EC-1118

The oak will gradually sink, no worries. I sprinkled on top of the oak as well. It says not to stir so I didn't. Took an extra day or two to get started, but it fermented just fine. It will ferment just fine at 70F, the Lalvin site says 60 to 85.

I would just give it another day, actually I bet by tonight it's perking. If it's not going by tomorrow night then yes call you wine shop because there must be something wrong with your yeast, they should stock the RC-212. It's only99c for a packet of yeast.

Good Luck! Almost forgot- Great chioce on the Stags Leap, I think it's terrific.
Everything looks OK for now. Some wines react differently than others.
Great choice BTW. Dont rush to bottle on the Merlot. Aging will help this one.

The main reason I suggested calling you LHBS is for your own peace of mind. Likely everything will be fine.
Wednesday, let us know how things are going. Some ask questions on this forum and get us all interested, then just fade away... We are all curious, so keep us informed.
Have you opened this up and taken an sg reading or looked for visual signs or listened for a sod pop crakling noise or are you jus going by no airlock activity as some times the rubber grommets leak and some times the rubber seals around the primary lids leak jusy enough so that the airlock doesnt react and the pressure is released around these areas.
Thanks for all of your responses. I stopped by my retailer on Tuesday and while there told them of my issue with the Merlot. They also suggested I check the seal on the fermentation tank, and then gave me a packet of RC212 yeast. This morning, Wednesday, early; the room temp was 69 degrees, the jusice temp was 73 degrees. The SG was 1.26. I stirred the juice, added the yeast and closed the seal. Within minutes the fermentation began. It was cooking like crazy. I watched it for a few minutes before leaving for the office. It was bubbling almost twice as fast as the Pinot. I will keep you posted. Thanks again for your interest and suggestions.


If your juice was warmer than the air temp in the room and you were not using a brew belt or other warming device, sounds to me like fermentation had already started.

Also, you likely would not have an SG of 1.26... maybe 1.026.

This early on I don't think you should actually seal the fermentation bucket's lid. The lid should just be setting in place with an airlock in place. The yeast do need some air early on to start doing their work. I would think the instructions say something like: place the lid on the bucket but don't snap it down. I could be wrong because I don't do Winexpert kits, so I can't say.
No way that adding a second packet of yeast started the fermentation in minutes. Probably stirring the wine caused some CO2 to come out of solution and thus activate your air lock.

What was the starting sg? Cause 1.026 is not a valid starting sg. So the wine had already fermented quite a bit.

As I said before, visual signs of fermentation are useless.

It was already fermenting and your lid was loose. Your gravity wouldn't be down to 1.026 already otherwise. It's OK to leave the lid loose, just use a your ears or your nose or your hydrometer to see if it's fermenting instead of looking at the air lock.

Glad you are up and running!
I agree, it was already doing its job fine! I believe W.E kits do say to snap the lid down and I actually do this all the time with no problems at all cause I havee cats and they like to sit om everything. Stirring it up gave it that boost which I like to do even though most lits say nothing about it, it gets all the yeast off the bottom which can soetimes get buried especially during a slow ferment and back into the game and that added bit of 02 really helps.
cpFan is right. The only sure sign of fermentation is that your SG is dropping. Take SG before pitching yeast, then, take it everyday to monitor it go down steadily. After the first few kits, you can skip a day of taking the SG here and there if you know what you are doing and there are no signs of trouble. If in doubt, take it everyday at about the same time. Regardless, always take the SG before you pitch the yeast.

If the SG is falling, you are fermenting, regardless of what it looks like.
(Also, the SG is the only sure way to tell when fermentation is finished.)

Great to hear all is well. It is a learning experience.
I would think the instructions say something like: place the lid on the bucket but don't snap it down. I could be wrong because I don't do Winexpert kits, so I can't say.

The WE kit instructions simply say "cover the primary fermenter". That's it. They don't say to attach the airlock or snap on an air-tight lid. Took me a couple kits to realize the instructions weren't all that specific. Now I just set the lid on my bucket, cuz I like to peek at the bubbles every day and it makes it simple to test the SG. Primary is so much fun!!
OK, I think they used to say that though but its been a few years since Ive done W.E. kit.
Robie, Steve,
Thanks for the recent comments. There probably was fermentation starting and the stirring did activate it. Now I'm concerned about a minor and a major issue: Minor; Will the second packet of yeast cause a problem? Major; My wife told me the smell of the fermenting wine is terrible.( usually I make the wine in my work area which is unheated, I moved these buckets into the finished and heated area of the basement). I'm hoping that a little fresh air and a deodorant bottle will cover the sweet smell of fermentation.

Any suggestions on masking the smell?

Thanks again to all who responded. If you are ever in the Chester County area of PA., stop in for a glass or two of wine.

Ron (Thunderhill)
If you added the same yeast no problem
AS far as the smell, it will only last a couple of days. Tell SWMBO that its the yeasties making alcohol for her.

More of the same yeast is no problem, but they probably died as soon as you poored them in anyway because your ABV was already getting up there.

Your wife has to learn to like the aroma of fermenting wine. It really does grow on you, give it some time. And it only lasts a few days, while the ferment is real active. Some ideas:

1- Get her to hang around with you while you are doing things so she gets used to the aroma.

2- Call it an aroma.

3- Tell her the aroma reminds you of home-made bread or something and see if that works...

No problem with the added yeast. They likely didn't survive for more than a few minutes. Other than ventilation, there's not much you can do about the smell. Maybe some kind of charcoal filter... I love that smell, but lots of people don't.

One thing to consider is, although you likely won't, if you start getting H2S (rotten egg smell), wifie will like the smell even less. I hope the 212 yeast is not too prong to giving off H2S. Since you stirred it at 1.026, you likely will not get the smell. (The slight H2S smell doesn't necessarily hurt anything, it is more about how wifie will react.)

If you start getting that smell, the yeast need a little oxygen. There should still be a lot of CO2 to protect the wine, so open the lid and check the SG, then close it again. Get back on here and let us know you have the rotten egg smell and tell us what the SG is. Depending on the SG value, you might need to stir in some air.

Just don't panic.
Thanks for the comments. I am not a twitter so I do not know what the SWMBO stands for. I'll be in touch.

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