View Full Version : Pyment from grapes with sulfur smell

10-07-2007, 08:39 PM
Hello everybody!
It's been quite a while since my last posts. A big move and quite a few successful batches of mead later, I find myself looking a your expertise again.
I got gifted with 15 gallons of ripe sweet concord grapes (lucky me!). So I rented a machine to make a mush of them, and got 5 gallons of sticky grape goodness. Sterilized it with campden and ascorbic acid for 24 hours. Separated it into two pails. Took two gallons of concord grape juice, heated it to dissolve 10 pounds of wildflower honey, cooled it, split it between the two pails. Mixed it well, rehydrated a packet of yeast for each pail, and pitched. The yeast was not as vigourous at rehydration as I like. But I had no other at the time. MG 1128. I put it in my computer room, as my meadery room is not ready yet, and the computer room is the warmest in the house (72). I have never worked from grapes before, only from the juice. I was told to stir the must each day for a week, and rack after two weeks. One of the pails has a happy fermenting smell. The second pail, however, has a sulfur tang to it. And it's not as bubbly as the first. This was pitched four days ago.
1. Should I worry?
2. Should I pitch another yeast?
3. Do I just leave the grape skins sit on top untouched for a week before racking?
4. I was planning to rack both pails into a 6 gallon carboy. Sould I keep them separate for fear of losing both batches?
Thank you for all the help! I trust those with more experience than me have gone through the same type of doubts before...
And I've missed you all! I'll be lurking around here again now that I have hight speed again!

10-07-2007, 09:38 PM
Did you use any yeast nutrients?

Usually a sulfur (rotten Egg) smell is associated with a lack of proper nutrients. I would add yeast nutrients (more specifically DAP) immediately.

Also I would stir the grapes 3 or 4 time a day (not just one).
Do not leave the grape skins on top! This could allow spoilage organism to get into the dry skins...


10-07-2007, 10:45 PM
Hi, Ferretlady! Welcome back! I wasn't actively participating at Gotmead when you took your hiatus, but I do know from personal experience that a LOT has happened here in the past few years; I'm sure you'll enjoy poking around a bit now.

Regarding the sulfur smell, storm is correct. If the smell is from sulfides (the rotten egg odor), then you likely have a stressed yeast colony... and the best thing to try first is some additional yeast nutrient, especially if you didn't use any supplementary nutrients to begin with. Yeast stress can also result from a pH out of the nominal range for fermentation --you want the pH of your must to be between 3.4 and 4.0, ideally.

But if the smell is that of a burnt match, then you are smelling sulfites, which usually means you have excess SO2 coming out of solution. That most often occurs if an excess of metabisulfite (aka Campden tablets) was used to sanitize the must. So, which is it in your case?

10-07-2007, 11:23 PM
The smell is more of a rotten egg type. So, more nutrients and more stirring, then? I must admit I've never had to use yeast nutrients before, even in suppositedly "difficult" fermentations. (I have the magic touch with yeast, usually)What I have on hand is a DAP,ammonium sulphate and magnesium sulphate blend. I'll put it in next time I stir.
So that solves my first two questions. How about 3 and 4? Anybody got an idea? This batch sounded so promising at the beginning, I'd hate to make more mistakes with it.

10-07-2007, 11:46 PM
Also I would stir the grapes 3 or 4 time a day (not just one).
Do not leave the grape skins on top! This could allow spoilage organism to get into the dry skins...


You can leave the skins in for color etc but definitely don't just leave them sitting on the top. Stir them back into the must several times daily. One set of posts talks about concord grape skins imparting a "foxy" flavor, I think. So I'd read up on that which might convince you to get the skins outta there sonner rather than later.

As for racking, taste them before you do anything. If it's just a nutrient problem that should be quite fixable and the sulfur smell should blow out over the next couple of days. And if it tastes fine at racking, it should be ok to blend. If you're worried, you can always keep them separate for now and blend them later; unblending is noticeably harder. :laughing7:

10-09-2007, 09:02 PM
Hello again! Here is the update on the sulfur smelling pyment.
Yesterday at stirring the must, I added, as advised, the yeast nutrients. Today I racked the liquid off the skins into two separate carboys. The skins were all grayish, so I figured they were spent, and I was afraid of that foxy flavour. To my surprise, both pails tasted superb, the gravity had gone from 1120 to 1010, In 7 days, At 72 degrees. And no alcool burn, no chemical taste, just the bite of acidity from the concord. That I will temper with extra honey.
I'm very pleased!
Thanks to all who helped!
Now I have more waiting to do, it still has to clear...
Let's start some naked meads...and a peach one too...I stil have those frozen pears to use...and the elderberries too!
A meadmaker's work is never done...

10-10-2007, 06:38 PM
That sounds so good! What was your finishing volume?