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Context:

I am currently working on a batch of jalapeno-cranberry wine. It's been in primary for five days so far and I am beginning to suspect I have flowers in my wine. I was not too concerned earlier this week as I thought it was just residual foam from an active fermentation, but the more time goes by, the more I suspect there is a problem.

Problem:

When I view the must, it appears as if there are little flecks / clumps of yeast floating on the surface and around the edges of the straining bag and the bucket.

Question:

How can I tell if I have flowers for sure? If so, how can I tell between spoiled yeast being the cause or bacteria?

Reference

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Hard to tell without a photo! –  mdma Jun 3 '13 at 7:02
    
@mdma - I've added photos. –  jjmusicnotes Jun 4 '13 at 0:54
    
Looks normal to me. The floaties might be yeast, or bits of fruit being pushed to the top by escaping CO2. –  Tobias Patton Jun 4 '13 at 2:00
    
Thank you for the feedback. Between your observation and the answer I am less worried. I have never seen the yeast behave this way before. –  jjmusicnotes Jun 4 '13 at 5:44
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1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The best way to tell for sure is to wait. You can't fix the problem if you have one. You just finished primary fermentation: it's not uncommon to have left over yeast all over the place; you haven't cleared your wine yet, whether with time or chemicals.

You can also see many images of others' infections via Google images. If the flowers are just starting to form, they may be impossible to tell apart from many other, normal conditions. Once your pellicle forms you will usually be able to tell what type of bacteria or yeast infection it is. At that point, posting a picture will elicit a response.

If you have access to a microscope, you could look at a sample. Most bacterial infections will have elongated bodies while yeasts are round. This will not differentiate between infections of yeast and wine yeast without an expert opinion.

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So, are you saying that flowers typically form during secondary fermentation? If they did turn out to be flowers and I don't have access to a microscope, would I just treat it as spoiled yeast first and then try treating it as bacteria if it doesn't clear up? –  jjmusicnotes Jun 4 '13 at 0:56
    
I'm saying that if primary fermentation just ended, it's most likely just wine yeast. It could be an infection, but the flowers would not be as big as in your picture (posted after my answer). Small flowers are difficult to identify. Secondary fermentation is a misnomer. Unless fermentables (some form of sugar or fruit) are added, no additional fermentation occurs. Yeast will run through a clean-up process and other processes may be invoked (such as Malolactic fermentation). Treatment is the same in any case. Dump or drink - your choice... but only share it with undiscerning people! –  Thomas E. Tamayo Jun 4 '13 at 2:54
    
Haha, okay, good to know. Thank you very much for the clarification. –  jjmusicnotes Jun 4 '13 at 5:42
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