Technique

Fermentation Troubleshooting with Wine Kits

The failure rate of wine made from kits is very low. Looking back at my database for the last 14 years and eliminating the weirder stuff (you simply would not believe how many pets find their way into fermenting vessels) it turns out that if you follow the instructions closely and have generally sound sanitation and storage practices, along with a healthy dose of patience and the good sense to take and record specific gravity and temperature readings, chances are you’ll make good wine 99.9% of the time. However, there is that teeny percentage when the kit goes sideways, and something a little stronger than patience is required. That’s when it’s time for take-no-prisoners troubleshooting. To help out with charting your problems, this topic will be divided into three sections over three issues. This section is on fermentation problems — slow, fast or unfinished fermenting activity. The second will be visual problems (color and clarity issues), and the last will be odor/flavor problems (aroma, bouquet and stinkiness). Before we shoot your troubles, carefully re-read your kit instructions. Wine kits sometimes