What Do Wine Legs Really Mean?

June 6, 2014 Blog » Wine Tips & Tricks » What Do Wine Legs Really Mean?

Are wine legs good or bad? What do wine legs tell you about a wine? Find out more about wine legs and how you can test this theory the next time you’re drinking.

What do Wine Legs Indicate?

  • High alcohol wines collect more droplets on the sides of the glass than low alcohol wines
  • Sweet wines collect more droplets on the sides of the glass than dry wines

Wine Legs on Port

Wine legs on a glass of 20% ABV Ruby Port with about 90 g/L residual sugar.

More ‘legs’ or droplets can indicate either high alcohol content and/or high sugar content in wine. Wine legs are caused by alcohol evaporation from the sides of the glass.

What are wine legs?

Wine legs are the droplets of wine that form on the inside of a wine glass. Wine legs are an example of the Gibbs-Marangoni Effect, a phenomenon that is the result of fluid surface tension caused by evaporation.

What’s actually happening?
When you swirl your wine you create a thin film of wine on the surface of the glass. As the alcohol in this mixture evaporates (creating wine aromas), the leftover water-wine mix collects on the sides of the glass creating droplets that fall back into the glass.

By the way, if you have a closed bottle of wine and you shake it, you’ll notice that this phenomenon doesn’t occur! This is because no evaporation is happening. Evaporation is the key to great wine legs.

TIP: Temperature and humidity of a room greatly affect the rate at which wine legs form.


Continued Education:

Madeline Puckette Swirling Wine

How to Swirl Wine

Swirling causes alcohol evaporation (it sounds bad but it’s actually good!) which is how we are able to smell all the nuanced aromas in wine. See the 2 types of wine swirls.

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Taste Wine Like a Pro

Find out how to identify flavors in wine including understanding the differences between Primary, Secondary and Tertiary aromas.

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By Madeline Puckette
I'm a certified wine geek with a passion for meeting people, travel, and delicious food. You often find me crawling around dank cellars or frolicking through vineyards.