What are Wine Legs?

Sometimes you may notice someone disturbing their wine glass, lifting it to the light and looking at it withheld breath until the legs of the wine manifest. As the French call them, these legs, or “tears” are the streaks of wine that appear on the side of the wine glass.

Unexpectedly, there was a time people speculated that the legs were related to the quality of the wine; the more legs, the higher the quality. However, the legs lean more to physics, wine surface tension, and alcohol content, with the quality noted. Where this myth started is unknown, but it is a tale that has been around for a long time.

By FlagSteward at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia, Shadow of Wine Legs

Wine Legs Meaning

The legs of wine or tears refer to the drops or streaks of water that originate inside a glass with wine is shaken after taking a sip. While many people think that these legs are related to the viscosity, sweetness, or quality of the wine, but it is not. It’s impossible to determine the quality of wine only by tilting the glass and counting your tears or legs. There are many other ways to help evaluate wine’s quality before taking your first sip.

By Angelo DeSantis from Berkeley, US – legsUploaded by AVIA BavARia, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia

Denominations for Wine Legs

Although “wine legs” is the most used term, this phenomenon brings with it several names:

  • Tears of wine
  • Gibbs – Marangoni effect: this effect emphasizes a scientific phenomenon that results from the artificial tension of the fluid generated by the evaporation of alcohol.
  • Windows of the church or monastery.

How to Determine the Wine Legs?

It isn’t very reassuring to report, but they aren’t tiny secrets that many dream to learn. Wine is a combination of alcohol and water. Both elements are the cause of wine legs when exposure to air comes.

Alcohol evaporates faster and lowers surface tension than water, forcing the alcohol to evaporate quickly. This procedure allows the water’s surface tension and concentration to increase, pushing the wine legs up the glass until the surface tension causes the water to produce pearls. Eventually, gravity wins the battle and forces the liquid to knock down the glass in a losing streak.

A simple experiment at home will reveal that physics, but not the quality of the wine, drives the present phenomenon. To do this, try to cover the next wine glass and see if the legs showed drop drastically when the glass is covered compared to the glass is exposed to air. Also, notice that tears do not appear in a shaken closed bottle of wine. In general, the wine not exposed to air, and evaporation will not occur; without it, the legs will not appear.

Notably, both the temperature and humidity of a room will significantly affect how quickly the wine legs will show on the glass.

Another procedure to determine the quality of a wine is to turn the glass just before drinking it, but not to achieve reading the wine’s legs. Stirring the wine will allow the perfume to release and will comment more on the wine. And from this, you can learn a little about its age, region, and body of the wine by merely inhaling and allowing the smell to locate the different nuances and notes.

Getting into the habit of smelling the wine’s fragrance is also a way to avoid drinking a corked bottle. For anyone with the unfortunate experience of tasting corked wine, they know that it is very unpleasant. Therefore, the ideal is to be careful with odors that refer to damp cardboard.

What Happens to the Tears of the Wine?

There is an eternal myth that enunciates; the sum of drops exhibited in the glass goes together with the wine’s general quality. Generally speaking, it will always consider a tale because any person can’t read the tears of wine correctly.

The wine legs show something: the alcohol content of the wine. This information can be useful to consider if you are tasting many wines by the glass, but, honestly, there will always want to know about the wine’s alcohol content that tasted.

What Wine Legs Can Tell You

The wine legs are just a spectacle of the amount of alcohol in a wine. With this stated, there has never been anyone known who could correctly “read” those legs and then comment on the wine’s alcohol level. Therefore, the tears of wine look gorgeous in a glass when they slide down the sides. It shouldn’t be worrying not to read them. The exciting thing is to enjoy the wine and the visual.

On the other hand, there is some controversy about whether they can comment on sweetness; Presumably, most sweet wines are denser. Dessert wines are quite thick due to their considerable sugar content. The stickier or viscous wine is, the more it incorporates into the rim of a glass, but this is unimaginable in wines containing very mild sweetness levels.

Concluding the tears of wine does not explain much about the taste or quality; there is one thing that clarifies, and it is the alcohol content. So, to finalize, it is advisable to enjoy the wine’s appearance. Admire the beautiful colors, silky textures, and how it captures light. Also, enjoy the legs, if necessary but without reaching huge conclusions about them.

Don’t Let the Myths Confuse You

It is regrettable to disappoint, but wine legs are not little secrets waiting to be exposed. In comparison, the level of tannin, sweetness, region, or age can communicate a lot about the wine’s life, like the grape or everything in terms of flavor. They are simply drops of liquid.

The creation of wine is sufficiently full of myths, half-truths, and all kinds of tricks. All this detailed deduction and mythologizing around what refers to the quality and how to know if a wine is worth consuming or not only distracts from trusting our tongue and nose, and it makes it even further away from a real pleasure. Wine is a fantastic thing, so without thinking, take a big sip and don’t let someone cloud your judgment.