How to Tell When Your Wine Is Done Fermenting


Wine is generally considered one of the great pleasures in life. Whether it's a glass with dinner or after a long day of work, wine has surpassed being merely an alcoholic beverage, but an experience to be savored. For those who make wine, there is a certain pleasure to be taken in the process, once it has been mastered.

All wine begins with grapes, specifically, fermented grapes. Fermentation is a delicate procedure and if it goes wrong, your entire wine supply will be ruined. When yeast devours sugar and converts it into half alcohol and half CO2, fermentation has occurred.

Fermentation will happen in two stages: primary and secondary.

Things You'll Need

  • Poly-fermenter
  • Air lock
  • Hydrometer
  • Prepare wine according the instructions of your wine recipe. Transfer the liquid to the poly-fermenter. On average, primary fermentation lasts between four to seven days. Don't use the air lock; the yeast in the liquid needs air to multiply, a key step in the fermentation process.

  • Attach air lock to poly-fermenter after the four to seven day period has passed. Secondary fermentation lasts two to three weeks and it is during that time the remaining alcohol will develop. Top winemakers typically wait 21 days.

  • Measure the wine with the hydrometer; the Specific Gravity Reading should be 1.030. Bottle the wine.

Tips & Warnings

  • - Use clean equipment that has been sanitized. Avoid bleach; try vinegar or purchase specific wine equipment sanitizer.
  • - Optimal temperature to ferment wine is 72 degrees, though anywhere between 70-75 degrees will produce satisfactory results.
  • - Avoid distilled water in your winemaking. Distilled water lacks oxygen and minerals, both of which impact the fermentation process.
  • -Don't add too much sugar; an overload of sugar will inhibit the yeast's ability to produce alcohol.
  • -Don't use old yeast. It won't ferment. If you're in doubt about how long the yeast has been stored, throw it out and buy a new supply.

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  • Photo Credit red wine pouring down from a wine bottle image by mashe from
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