What Are Wine Legs?

If you’ve ever been to a wine-tasting room or even a restaurant, you have most likely seen people swirling their glasses. This simple motion isn’t just for show.

If you love wine but are confused by this concept, know that swirling a glass correlates with “wine legs,” also known as the “tears of wine.”

Keep reading for everything you need to know about wine legs so that you can swirl your wine with purpose.

Wine Legs

When we say “wine legs,” we refer to the droplets that form on the inside of a glass. These “legs” can indicate two things: high alcohol content and sweetness.

What Are Wine Legs?

What Are Wine Legs?

1. High Alcohol Content

Wine with a higher alcohol content will leave droplets on the insides of a glass. This event is known as the Gibbs-Marangoni Effect. Let us explain:

Wine is mainly made up of water and ethanol (or alcohol). Water has a high surface tension, while ethanol has a high evaporation rate. When you swirl the wine, the ethanol evaporates, allowing the water to move toward the top of a wine glass. Once a large amount of water has accumulated at the top of the swirl, the droplets form.

Wines with more alcohol content, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Zinfandel, will form more wine legs.

2. Sweet Wines

Sweeter wines tend to have more viscosity. In other words, these wines have a relatively thick and sticky consistency. Due to sweet wines’ viscous nature, wine legs take longer to form and more slowly down the sides of a glass.

Wine Leg Myths

If you were to explore the great wine countries and their vast selection of wineries, you’d likely end up hearing a few myths about wine legs. One of the most popular misconceptions is that legs indicate the quality of your wine. Ultimately, this is false.

The truth is: wine legs do not give us much information about the wine. They mainly let you know its alcohol content. While legs can indicate whether a wine is sweet or not, they don’t give you an extensive idea of how sweet the wine is.

Some wine connoisseurs would argue that wine legs can also show how much tannins and acids are in a glass of wine — although this has no official evidence behind it.

How To Get Wine Legs In Your Glass

If you ever want to get the full wine-tasting experience, you’ll have to use all of your senses. To examine wine legs into your glass, follow these steps:

  1. Before you swirl your wine, tilt your glass till the wine flows on one side.
  2. Then, level your glass and observe the legs that form.
  3. Take note of what the legs are like––including how many there are and how slow the legs move.

Practice Makes Perfect

Wine legs have a chance to enhance your drinking experience. By filling your nostrils with the vivid aromas of a wine, you can understand its variety of flavors.

If you want to test this out, try pouring out some wine with a moderate to high ABV (Alcohol By Volume) percentage.

Get To Know Wine Legs

While they do not represent the quality of their drink, wine legs can bring a new dynamic to how you drink wines instead. This is especially true when relishing your favorite fortified or sweet wines. With this in mind, try to tilt, swirl, and then smell your wines for a heightened experience.