Wine legs: what they are and why they don’t matter

Have you ever wondered what the “tear drops” are on the side of your wine glass when you swirl the wine? Those drops or lines of wine are called wine legs. Many people believe that these are due to the quality of the wine or the viscosity of the liquid. But in reality, those wine legs are caused by the alcohol level in the wine. But, it is also really hard to tell the level of alcohol solely by looking at the wine legs, so the point of wine legs is kinda moot.

But are you intrigued and just want to see what in the world we are talking about? Then swirl your wine in a glass and tilt it sideways a little bit.  Then level the glass and watch the wine flow back down. Look at the wine legs (lines or streaks) that form and see how dense they are.  If there are a lot of them, the wine has a higher alcohol level.

Now, for those of us science lovers out there: why does this occur??  The swirling of the wine creates a thin layer of wine around the inside of the glass.  The alcohol in the wine evaporates and leaves behind a wine-water mixture that creates droplets that then falls back down into the glass of wine because of the surface fluid tension. The evaporating alcohol is also what gives the wine its smell. The evaporation is key in the formation of wine legs. If you do the same thing in an unopened bottle of wine, you will notice that the phenomenon of wine legs does not occur and this is because no evaporation is taking place. If you’d like to learn more, look up the Gibbs-Marangoni Effect (which is what is taking place in wine legs).

Do Deer Creek wines have wine legs? Of course. But do they matter? Not really. So just enjoy the wine and enjoy the science of wine legs. And then make sure your wine doesn’t run away with its wine ‘legs.’ Ha.