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Ooops, I Forgot The Yeast

Thursday, May 18, 2006

You know, it is the little things in wine making that make or break your wine.  There have been times I have forgotten to add ingredients or I know one time I added too much yeast nutrient to the must.  Stupid me got teaspoon and tablespoon mixed up.  99% of the time, you can get away with it.  So, it's not 100% perfect.  You have 2 choices, either dump it or drink it.  Personally, i prefer to drink it.  Except one batch that was over oaked, nasty stuff.  Good thing I have plastic drain pipe 'cause that stuff would have eaten a whole in metal.
I received an e-mail today from a novice winemaker that I want to share with you along with my response.  And, it is not to make fun of what he did but more of a heads up to keep the little things in mind when making your wineAlso, to let him know that we all have made mistakes.  Some of us choose to talk about them while others choose to forget them.
I am a beginner winemaker. I tried to make a batch of Strawberry wine last summer and it turned to vinegar.  I forgot to add water to the airlock.
I am now trying my second batch, however I have a problem. I started my must last Wednesday. Today I was going to check the S.G. and realized that I forgot to add the yeast. I feel like such an idiot. 
I did add the yeast. Is there still hope for this batch or did I screw things up again? 
Thanks for the e-mail.  Last summer I was talking with a friend who is a novice winemaker and he kept telling that his batch of wine still tasted like juice.  This was about 2 weeks after he started it and he couldn't figure out what was wrong.  We tossed around a few ideas of why his fermentation was stuck and then I asked him, "What yeast did you use?"  He replied, "oh geez, I forgot the yeast.".  So rest easy that your not the only one to make that mistake.

As far as you batch being screwed up.  Depends on how you ferment.  If you use a closed system (carboy with an airlock) then adding yeast to it now should not be a problem.  If you use an open system, then you might have some problems with wild yeast.  I personally use a modified open system that consists of a 5 gallon bucket with a large grain bag tied over the top.  This keeps the large critters out but does not block any wild yeast.  I figure, if wild yeast is good enough for the Belgian beer makers, then it is good enough for me.

Personally, I would say there is hope for your batch of wine, but of course, I am an optimist.  I also let my must rest for about a day before I even add the yeast so adding it a week later should not be too much of a problem.  Besides, this may even turn out to be one of your best wines yet. Have faith my friend and don't sweat it.  Just grab a glass of wine and relax. 
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