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A close-up pic of wine "tears" (aka "tears"), from scientist Dan Quinn. Click for video.

A close-up pic of wine “legs” (aka “tears”), from Princeton scientist Dan Quinn. (Click for video.)

Welcome back, my friends! Today, I have an odd little story for you, from waaay back in the day…

I was just starting out in the wine biz, and when I heard someone say their glass of wine had “legs,” I half-expected it to get up and run away. 😉


I snapped this during a tasting at Roche Winery in Sonoma. Even when the wine glass is almost empty, you can see the tears.

I snapped this at Roche Winery in Sonoma. The glass is almost empty, but “wine tears” still show in its shadow.

Next, I heard “Yeah. Just look at those *tears*!”

Sheesh. Now the thing’s not just running, but it’s *crying* too.

No wonder people think this whole “learn about wine” thing is one huge snobfest!

Fortunately, my wine-expert friend grabbed a glass of red and showed me exactly what she meant – then explained how it all worked.


Another "shadow shot" of wine tears ~ outdoors at Viansa Winery in Sonoma.

Another pic of wine tears, in both glass and shadow, outdoors at beautiful Viansa Winery in Sonoma.

The “legs,” aka “tears,” are those droplets of liquid inside your glass that slide back down to the wine’s surface from a rippling line just above it.

You can see them best after you swirl your glass, then set it down to watch the action.

Fast forward to the 21st century. And head to Princeton University’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Program.

(Say *that* ten times fast!!!)


There, PhD student (and wine lover) Dan Quinn became fascinated with the “wine tears” phenomenon, which, as my friend had told me, is all about surface tension.

You can *Click Here* or on the top pic to see his amazing video explaining it.

Don’t miss the parts where the action is speeded up to 12 times normal. It’s mesmerizing! (Lava lamp, anyone?)

(Long story short: Alcohol has a lower surface tension than water, and evaporates more easily. In a glass of wine, especially after you’ve swirled it, some of the alcohol creeps up the inside of the glass (along with water and other things). Some of that evaporates. But gravity is also in play, and works against the surface tension, forcing part of the liquid downward to form those droplets.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little story, as well as our little foray into the science of wine.

Special thanks to Dan Quinn for doing the research, and for sharing his great video. (You can *Click Here* if you missed the link above.)


I’ll be back soon, my friends, with more “Drink Wine With Dinner®” recipes, pairings, and Wine Country happenings to share with you.

Until then,
Cheers and happy tasting –


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