newby questions

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


New Member
Dec 7, 2022
Reaction score
belmont, nc
hello everyone. new to the forum and wine making and this is my first post. bought my first kit, smashed some muscadines and scuppernongs (both red and white), muddled through the instructions which the more i read the more confused i seemed to get. my first issue was actually getting fermentation to start. i mixed the ingredients and additives, including 1 campden tab for each gal and waited the 24 hours. mixed up the yeast in warm sugar water, got a good froth and added to must in 6 gal bucket with airlock and waited... and waited 24 hrs and nothing. in my panic i added another pack of yeast. repeated this process for 3 days and finally started fermentation. left for 7 days and then put in 3 gallon carboy with airlock for 30 days. racked again into carboy filled to the top and plugged as per instructions with the kit. waited 2 months and never could get hydrometer below 1.000. tasted pretty good after i sweetened. waited another 2 weeks then bottled, still not reaching below 1.000 on hydrometer. so i'm hoping to get 15 bottles consumed before the corks blew out. so at this pont i have a couple questions
1. why did fermentation take 3 days to start
2. what did i do wrong that i could never get a hydrometer below 1.000.
the resulting wine does taste decent to my unsophisticated pallet and i notice no effervescence, although i admit i never could get it to de-gas completely.

2nd batch was blueberries. i grow my own so i had plenty. added enough sugar to make 12% alcohol along with the other ingredients. again same issue with delayed fermentation. so
question 1. is the use of an airlock in primary fermentation causing the delay

once it start however it went like gangbusters for 7 days. at this point hydrometer reading was about .995.
question 2: can that be right. i would have thought it would not reach that level until after secondary fermentation. which i started at the time of the reading
question 3: if that is truly the correct reading ( and i will check again once the sediment settles a bit) should go ahead and stabilize and bottle. seems the more i read the more i believe i'm overthinking it. any advice would be appreciated
Welcome aboard!
I haven't made wine, and only dabbled in cider, so I can't answer your questions. But if it tastes good, I wouldn't sweat the details. A search on this forum might get you some answers, or you'll figure it out in time. Good luck, keep us posted.
Welcome aboard!

For batch #1, what yeast did you use and what was the temperature of your must? If the temperature was too low for the yeast, that could explain some of the difficulty getting fermentation started. It would also be helpful to know the initial pH. I make country wine, not grape wine, so someone else might want to weigh in here.

You say that your hydrometer reading was above 1.000. What was the exact reading? You should also be sure that you are reading it correctly. Are you using a hydrometer or a refractometer? If a hydrometer, can you post a picture of the hydrometer in your wine sample?

For batch #2, that sounds normal. Most of my fruit wines are finished fermentation after about a week. The yeast does not know the difference between "primary" and "secondary" fermentation. There is just one fermentation, but we rack it into a secondary fermentation vessel at some point. If it stays at 0.995 SG for several days, the fermentation is probably finished.

For my primary fermentation vessel I use a food grade bucket covered by a dish towel. During the first part of fermentation, the yeast actually need oxygen, so it is good to stir the must twice a day. Once SG has reached around 1.010 you can rack it into your secondary vessel and put it under airlock.

You don't mention whether you added any yeast nutrients. I'm not sure about grape wine, but fruit wine nearly always needs extra nutrients. In the case of blueberries, it is possible that the pH was a little low and delayed the start of fermentation. But it sounds like it fermented well once it got going.
Hi applejax - and welcome. I have never made wine with the grapes you mention: I live upstate NY, but one possibility for your gravity reading is not that there is unfermented sugar still in solution but the reading is because of particulates in the wine. Realize that specific gravity is not simply a measure of the sugars in liquid but a measure of the density of the liquid. In wine making we generally assume that density is solely caused by dissolved sugars but there could just as easily be other dissolved compounds that add to the density (and for the record, gases dissolved that reduce the density).
Another possibility is that even if the only compounds dissolved in solution are sugars , some of the sugars may not be fermentable. If you brew beer, you are unlikely to ever get a wort to drop below about 1.010- 1.015. Beer and wine yeasts simply cannot ferment the complex sugars that are still in the wort even after enzymatic activities have broken down most of the starches and carbs to simpler sugars the yeast can ferment.
You ask why there was a lengthy delay before fermentation began after you pitched the yeast. Typically, there is a phenomenon wine makers refer to as lag time which is the time it can take a viable colony of yeast to acclimatize to a new and relatively hostile environment of high concentrations of sugar; high levels of acidity; and a shock of a different temperature. The "warm sugar water" you used to - what? rehydrate the yeast? may have got those cells acclimated to a very different universe than the one they found themselves drowning in a few minutes later. Moreover, if you stirred that COLONY in the must you damaged the integrity of the colony and it would take the yeast time to recreate that pseudo-organism.
Last point: you sweetened the wine - and often , and certainly with country wines, back sweetening is needed. Typically with classic grape wines even when fermented brut dry, there is a perception of sweetness. Not so with country (fruit) wines - and perhaps not with muscadine & scuppernong. BUT, just because the yeast left a few points of gravity unfermented, does not mean that the yeast quit the picture. If the sugars you added were simple enough for the yeast to ferment and if the wine you had made was not beyond the alcohol tolerance for the yeast you had pitched and the pH was not so low that they could not transport sugars through their cell walls, the sugar you wanted for yourself would be grist for the mills of those yeast. And the CO2 they would belch out would likely be enough - if you were lucky - to pop the corks and cause the wine to gush out. If you were unlucky, you would have to deal with flying shards of glass that are beyond "dangerous". They can kill you. The expression "bottle bombs" is not an exaggeration. Before you add any sugar after fermentation and before bottling you MUST stabilize the wine with two compounds - K-meta and K-sorbate. The first tends to kill small weakened colonies of yeast, and the second, the sorbate, prevents any cells too robust to be killed by the metabisulfite, from budding (reproducing). Lab cultured yeast tends to be very robust , unlike indigenous (wild) yeast cells.