Long legs and big aromatics benefit by swirling the wine

The swirling around of wine in your glass is an interesting activity that isn’t just fun and stylish looking; swirling your wine can help you do a few things that will add to the total wine experience.

  • Apr. 12, 2011 5:00 a.m.

By Andrea Pollock

The swirling around of wine in your glass is an interesting activity that isn’t just fun and stylish looking; swirling your wine can help you do a few things that will add to the total wine experience.

Modern day wine etiquette says that your glass should only ever be filled one third of the way full. This allows for adequate room to properly swirl your wines without losing any of that precious nectar over the edge of your glass. As the wine swirls it increases in surface area, exposing more of it to the air. This aeration helps to release the aromatic compounds and will make the different components of the wine easier to smell.

Wine aromatics have a better chance of being identified when they are jostled up and moved around so that they can be sucked up by your nose. Swirling wine helps to shake it up, oxygenate a bigger surface area and make things easier to smell.

Swirling your wine can also give you an idea about how much alcohol is in your wine. When wine is swirling in a glass it will go up the sides of the glass and start to fall back down.

As the wine heads back to the bowl of the glass it creates legs. This is really rather an interesting phenomenon, because longer and slower legs are an indication of a higher alcohol content.

The real scientific stuff will show that alcohol evaporates more readily than water – the alcohol in the wine starts to evaporate and creates the beading effect that leads to legs streaming down the side of your glass. Legs aren’t really a signal of quality, but they sure can tell you if your wine is high alcohol. To see some really great legs you should try to give a swirl to a fortified wine like port or sherry.

This week selections are nice wines that have made my dinner table in the last little while. Some nice picks that I think would be enjoyed.

WINES OF THE WEEK

De Bertoli Vat 8 Shiraz 2008 [Australia]

A nice bouquet of eucalyptus, cool menthol and black licorice. A mouth of young plum and a sting of chile infused jam. Lovely drinking. A high alcohol wine that leaves lovely legs on the glass. 85/100 (March 2nd, 2011)

Fish Hook Sauvignon Blanc – [South Africa]

A curious nose with some tropical grass, burnt oranges and a sting of citrus. Flavours have a nice sharpness with lemon and tart orange rind. Not overtly sweet and finishes with a short clean burst of chalk. 88/100 (March 29th, 2011)