Do you see folks effortlessly swirling their wine and seemingly paying no attention to the glass? Do you think they are just showing off? Maybe you try imitating them, but aren’t really sure why they and you are swirling your glasses.
Swirling Opens Up the Wine
When wine comes into contact with oxygen, the aroma compounds attach themselves to the evaporating alcohol as it leaves the glass, and you benefit from being able to better detect the nuances.
Generally speaking, younger wines will benefit from swirling and bigger, bolder wines will benefit even more.
If the wine has robust tannins, swirling can help to soften the mouthfeel and make them smoother or silkier.
Swirling will leave “legs” on the glass, also called tears. There’s a common misconception that “good legs” correlate with quality wine. In truth, legs are basically a function of alcohol content. The more viscosity in the legs, the more alcohol in the wine.
Looking down into the bottom of a stationary glass makes wine appear darker. A few swirls around the glass gives you a better sense of the wine’s color!
Start with a large-bowled glass. While keeping the base on the table (we promise this makes it easier), imagine you are trying to move a small object around the inner circumference of the glass. Establish this motion for a swirl or two and then try lifting the glass slowly off the table a few inches.
Keep practicing. You’ll get the hang of it.
Swirling and Older Vintages
Be gentle with older wines. Too much swirling can over-oxidize an aged and delicate wine. On the other hand, if you open an older wine and you get that aroma of rotten eggs or burnt match, a few seconds of swirling can help dissipate malodors.
**Btw, try to avoid over-swirling, either in duration or force. Several seconds or even a minute is all it takes. Use too much force and you or someone nearby will be wearing your wine. Trust us, we’ve seen it all in the tasting room!