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How to Interpret Tears in Wine

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wine drops 1You’ve all seen the wine drops that form on the walls of your glass. They are called tears (or the “leg” , the “thigh” ).

On some glasses of wine, tears are fat, slow and many.

In other cases, however, the wine is fluid and « slides » on the walls of glass without sticking to it.

So what are these tears? How do they determine the wine?

Vocabulary tears of wine

Vocabulary: Fluid / Streaming / Thick / Fat / Viscous

TearsSome wines flow like water on the walls of glass, they are fluid, others stick like oil, they are fat .

The formation of tears of wine

When you turn the wine in your glass, the wine adheres to the glass (surface tension).

However, the film of wine is mainly composed of water and alcohol. (Approximately 85% water 12% alcohol … and yes, any wine lover is also a lover of water)

wine drops 2

When evaporation of the film occurs, it is primarily the alcohol that evaporates. Its boiling point (78 ° C) is less than the boiling point of water (100 ° C).

Therefore, the composition of the film changes from wine: it is less concentrated alcohol, and therefore richer in water.

But water is denser than alcohol. So after a while, the wine film « becomes denser” so there is formation of beads or to sound flashier, tears.

This evaporation continues as the alcohol that evaporates is replaced by the alcohol in the glass.

wine drops 3

This phenomenon is named the Marangoni effect.

What influences the formation of tears?

It is the evaporation of alcohol which allows the formation of tears, by changing the surface tension of the wine film.

Therefore, the higher the alcohol content, the greater the formation of tears.

Evaporation is also enhanced by temperature: a higher temperature promotes the formation of tears. You can check this by taking a glass of whiskey in one hand while heating the glass, you will increase the formation of tears as evaporation occurs. Logical, right?

One more thing: sweet or sweet wines, that are rich in sugar, form tears slower. Sugar density affects the wine; tears formed are therefore heavier, slower.

What can we conclude from the presence of tears during tasting?

Given what we have just explained, a wine rich in alcohol is the most abundant in tears.

However, the alcohol in wine comes from the grape sugar, which during alcoholic fermentation, is converted into alcohol. Depending on the rate of fermentation, about 17 g / L sugar gives 1% alcohol.

A wine rich in alcohol is one rich in grape sugar. As a result of the sunshine that plays largely on the ripeness of the grapes and sugar content, it is known that these are the wines tend to be southern (Southern wines) and result in the most tears.

More fluid wine is usually Northern.

alcohol sugar

So I recommend you take a step back and compare the theory of geographical location: a vintage from a sunny region reflects on the ripeness of the grapes which in turn affects their sugar content and the level of alcohol.

In summary:

  • Tears of wine result from the evaporation of alcohol
  • A large amount of alcohol promotes the formation of tears.
  • A bold wine, viscous (with abundant tears) is characteristic of a grape with good maturity and thus one which benefits from favorable sunshine.

Do you usually look at the tears of wine during your tasting?

Let me have your tasting feedback below: What wines are thicker? Which ones are more fluid?

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