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My fermentation seems to have stopped too early. I don’t have much experience (mostly some wine and mead making failed attempts) or proper gear like a hydrometer.

Here is what I did differently from the regular recipes

  • I didn’t add much sugar because I can’t stand sweet wine.

  • I may have added too much yeast, particularly as I was carefull not to wash the grapes to benefit from the natural yeast.

  • I grossly manually squeezed the grapes, put the juice separately in a closed carboy with a fourth of the yeast, i put the wet must in an open air container in a mesh bag with 3/4 of the yeast and added some sugar to jump start it. After a day, I started to see some activity, so the second day I squeezed dry the must and added that partially fermented juice to the rest of the juice (that also had started bubbling)...

I was expecting the primary fermentation to really start strongly, but nothing much is happening, not for the past several days, a tiny bit of gas, and the sediment are settling down... It looks like the primary fermentation is over, but it can’t be, and the juice still smells like grape juice not like alcohol.

I hope the information I have given is enough for you to recommend a course of action.

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How long has it been in primary fermentation? We need some extra context about what the recipe is, and what strain of yeast you used. Once those questions are answered, I can help guide you towards a guess, but truly without a hydrometer, it would be really hard to determine the state of fermentation.

However, I can clear up some of what you wrote

I didn’t add much sugar because I can’t stand sweet wine.

Adding sugar to wine does not always lead to a sweet wine. This is heavily dependent on your yeast strain, health, and what your wine must composition and gravity is.

I may have added too much yeast, particularly as I was careful not to wash the grapes to benefit from the natural yeast.

It would be almost impossible for you to add too much yeast. I'm talking about pitching gallons of yeast slurry into a few gallons of wine.

Some wine strains ferment notoriously slowly, especially as it approaches lower gravity. If you have not added any nutrients, I wouldn't count on even cracking open the primary fermenter for 6 weeks.

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  • Thanks, I guess it is still going on, it is just very, very slow. I didn’t know some yeasts were slow, the ones I used before got very vigorous after a couple of days (even ones with no added yeast other than the fruit’s skins) I started it 10 days ago. I have no idea what my yeast strain is, it’s just a little pack bought from eBay UK that says “all purpose wine yeast”. I didn’t follow a particular recipe, just looked around the net. I was just expecting the fermentation to accelerate after introducing the must not slow down to a crawl. – Reed -SE is a Fish on Dry Land Jul 15 at 8:00
  • I think the hardest part of wine making is patience. That said, yeast nutrient would certainly help you nail down the last points of gravity. I would really suggest you pickup a hydrometer and some yeast nutrient. Both will last a long time and should cost <10$ in total. For future batches, I recommend the Lalvin yeast strains (K1V-1116 in particular for generic dry fruit wine). Good luck! – rob Jul 15 at 12:43

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