It’s got long legs!

Most likely you have seen someone with a glass of wine swirl it around and then hold it up to a light, waiting for the wine’s legs to appear. If “legs” aren’t mentioned, then the alternative term is “tears.”

Legs  are the streaks of wine that form on the side of the wine glass.

The person doing the swirling believes that legs are an indicator of the wine’s quality: good legs mean good-quality wine.  However, this belief is false, and here is why.

IMG_6461Legs are simply formed due to the wine’s surface tension and alcohol content and have nothing to do with the wine’s quality.

Where do legs come from? When you swirl that wine glass a thin film of wine forms on the glass sides. As the alcohol in this wine film begins evaporating, you smell the wine’s aroma and the leftover wine film on the sides of the glass begin creating droplets that fall back into the glass, causing those long legs to form.

The next time you have a glass of wine, swirl it, but then cover up the glass top with your hand. You will notice that the legs dramatically decrease. Why? Because covering the glass top sharply reduces the rate at which the wine’s alcohol evaporates. Little alcohol evaporation means very few legs.

But the quality of the wine has not been altered one iota.

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