I’m going to make a starter instead of pitching dried yeast for two reasons; it’s always worked very well with my beers, and the only wine yeast I have went out of date six months ago. Setting it off on the stir plate with plenty of oxygen and nutrients should have a positive effect on the viable cell count, and if nothing at all happens then at least I’ve only contaminated a small sample of my must.
In the end it actually worked out quite well. I took 400 ml of must from the first mashings and added it to my medium Erlenmeyer flask along with approximately one teaspoon of dried wine yeast and a generous helping of wine yeast nutrient before placing it on the stir plate. Absolutely nothing happened for a couple of hours, and then in the space of ten minutes we saw the first signs of foam at the top.
I gave her a good shake and increased the speed of the stirrer because I didn’t want Krausen just yet, and it continued to stay headless until the morning, by which point a good amount of foam could be summoned by switching off the stirrer and letting it sit for a moment.