[Legs do well in high heels, especially accompanied by wine / Alaskan Dude]


We generally understand legs to be the things that hold up tables and karate kick bad guys and take us from place to place, usually by helping us operate the gas pedal. But occasionally a new meaning to the word is introduced and suddenly everyone’s confused. Yes, wine legs are a thing. But what are they?


Wine Legs, Defined

wine-legs-glass[Wine legs / jenny downing]


Someone hands you a glass of wine. You swirl it because it makes the wine taste better and swirling glasses is fun. Now, look at how the wine runs down the side of the glass. Those delicious red trails are the legs. Legs are also the droplets that drip from the ring at the top of the glass. The French call them tears, but we prefer the less melodramatic legs.


Alcohol, As Explained By Science

Alcohol has a lower surface tension than water. As you swirl your wine around the glass, the motion sends it climbing up the side where it starts to evaporate. Since alcohol evaporates faster than water, the alcohol to water ratio shifts. When this happens, the alcohol at the top of the glass becomes less concentrated than the stuff happily pooling at the bottom of the glass. The surface tension of the liquid increases. More liquid is drawn from the bulk of the wine and up the side of the glass, forming droplets that fall back down under their own weight.


wine-legs-bottle[Essence of a full-bodied wine / jenny downing]


This is called the Marangoni effect, named after Carlo Marangoni, an Italian physicist who published his doctoral thesis on alcohol drippings in 1865. We assume he drank a lot of wine in the name of research.


People who claim that lots of legs denote better wine don’t appreciate science properly. (Don’t be one of those people.) Wine legs are only an indication of alcohol content. But if you want to know which wine will get you drunk faster, one with a lot of legs is a good way to go. 


Martin J Diehr wrote at May 24, 2013
0 Votes
Nice Blog! Here is another take on wine legs...
Martin J Diehr