Legs for Days: Why Wine Experts Swirl Their Wine

Legs for Days: Why Wine Experts Swirl Their Wine

By Rai Cornell


Who doesn’t love a pair of long legs?


Even better: Did you know you can scope out the stems on your favorite wine? True fact.


The next time you’re rubbing elbows with the people you want to impress most, you’ll have these sophisticated tid bits to drop into conversation.


Here’s what you need to know about these luscious gams and what they mean to the most devoted wine drinkers.


What Are Wine Legs?

If you’ve ever been to a wine tasting and heard the sommelier throw around the word “legs,” you may have been a tad confused. But don’t worry – we’re here to fill you in on this puzzling wine terminology.


Wine has all sorts of characteristics – like terroir, tannins, alcohol content, sugar content, carbonation, viscosity, and more – that marry to create a unique flavor profile. While our favorite way to sleuth out these traits is by tasting, there are actually several ways you can learn about the wine in your glass without ever taking a sip.


Like looking at the legs.


Wine legs (also known as “tears,” to some) at the thin strings of liquid that remain on the inside of your glass once you’ve given it a swirl.


The legs actually appear as a result of alcohol evaporating from the sides of the glass.


How Can I See Some Legs?

Grab a glass.


Pour yourself a modest serving. (Remember: while most of us wine-lovers tend to pour bigger portions, one serving of wine is only five ounces.)


Slowly swirl the wine in your glass until the liquid coats most of the inside surface.


Hold your glass still.


Watch as the wine trickles down the inside of your glass and reveals those gorgeous gams.


Who Has the Best Legs?

It depends on what you like.


Legs are a sign that your wine has a higher alcohol content or a higher sugar content. While all wines leave some degree of legs on a glass, lighter wines like Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir will show only the subtlest of legs due to their low sugar contents.


In wines with low sugar and alcohol contents, the legs will be thin and fast moving. In wines with high sugar or alcohol contents, the legs will be more noticeable and will run slowly down the glass.


Wines such as Port are remarkably rich and have a thicker viscosity, which gives them thick, luscious legs.


Do Legs Really Matter?

They do if you want to know more about the wine you’re about to enjoy while also impressing the socks off your companions.


Next time you’re out to dinner and enjoying a new wine, give it a swirl and examine the legs. You can prep your fellow diners with a comment like, “Looks like a dry wine” or “Oooh! This’ll be rich!”


When you each take a sip and prove your prediction, you’ll solidify your spot as the most-sommelier-like friend in the bunch.


Understanding a wine’s legs can also give you an assist during wine tastings and pairings. If you’re shopping for a particular type of wine that may pair well with a dessert, opt for a wine with thicker, lingering legs. If you want something refreshing and bright that will pair well with poultry or fish, select the skinnier stems.


Of course, wine legs are just gorgeous to look at. Next time you’re sipping your favorite vintage, snap a pick of those lovely legs and tag us on Instagram @getVINEBOX.



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