What do “legs” tell us about a wine?

“Legs” in a wine glass are the tears that stream down the side of the glass after you’ve swirled it. Some take special notice of these legs – are they fast or slow? Thick or thin? Whatever speed and shape they take, what does it even mean? The legs of a wine show you nothing of the wine’s quality, and studies have shown they don’t really show much about a wine’s viscosity, either. Legs are created in a glass by a number of different relationships between the liquid and the glass surface and between the water and alcohol components of the wine. The way the legs fall usually has to do with the level of alcohol in the wine and the speed at which it evaporates, and  thicker and slower legs can indicate a higher alcohol level. In short, watching the legs flow down a glass may be pretty, but won’t give you much insight into the wine.

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