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The Science of Swirling Wine

The Science of Swirling Wine

blog , Laurita Winery , Wine Science , Wine Weirdness 🕔August 25, 2018 0 comments

You know the stereotype… nose up, pinky out, arm raised, eyes narrowed, glass swirlin’ wine snob. But we’ve told you before, there’s actually good reason to swirl your wine.

Swirling your wine around the glass introduces oxygen. See, immediately after exposure to oxygen, wine begins to break down. Being swirled introduces a lot of oxygen quickly, which allows wine to “open up” and start releasing its true aromas.

And as it turns out, there’s science to the swirl itself. arstechnica has more.

Several years ago, Martino Reclari, then a graduate student at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, was out to dinner with colleagues when the conversation turned to the different kinds of wave dynamics they could produce by swirling their wine glasses: one big smooth wave, a series of smaller ripples, or a splash, for instance.

They went on to conduct experiments by swirling different amounts of wine in various containers, using a chem lab gyrating machine.

They identified three factors at work: the ratio of the level of wine in the glass to the glass’s diameter; the ratio of the glass’s diameter to the width of the circular shaking; and the ratio of the primary forces acting on the wine: one pushing the liquid to the outside, the other forcing the liquid back down.

Their findings show that by tinkering with those three variables, you can create different kinds of wave dynamics in the glass.


A French team expanded on the study with additional beverages, and made a probably unimportant but still kind of neat discovery.

Unlike wine, beer has a head of foam, and while you might expect that foam to move in the same direction as the swirling motion, the opposite is true. It rotates in the opposite direction.


So the next time you’re tempted to raise your arm, extend your pinky, and swirl that glass… do it! It’s not snobbery, it’s science!


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