I’ve always been a leg man.
A gorgeous set of legs will get me excited every time. I’ll just want to lick every last bit.
I’m talking about the legs in a glass of wine. (Where did you think I was going with that?)
It always amuses me to watch tourists and locals at the bar swirling and looking at the wine slowly run down the glass. Known as “legs”, these hypnotizing drips say a lot about a wine, but very few know how to interpret them.
We are visual creatures. We seek mates, food, entertainment and, yes, wine with our eyes. (Our sight center in our brain is also closest to the verbal center, which is why we can describe yellow in a hundred ways, but have a hard time describing what a peach smells, or tastes, like). So, we naturally will probably notice the color. The color can give you and indication of how the wine will taste and old the wine is.
A bright wine is young, versus a browned wine, which may be old (or prematurely oxidized as a defect). If the white wine has a greenish tinge, chances are it will be on the more acidic, or herbaceous, side, versus fruity. A butte-colored wine has seen oak and will seem fuller in the mouth and creamier. A dark stained red that leaves purple tears has a lot of phenolics floating around (those good things that help your heart) and a red that runs down the glass quickly and doesn’t leave a stain is likely a more fruity wine.
The second thing you’ll notice is how fast those little legs are running down the glass, or viscosity.This indicates either sweetness, or alcohol. Since our brain interprets alcohol as sweetness, this is sometimes hard to separate. But if you have a dessert wine, it should be more viscous in the glass. If you have a 15% alcohol Zinfandel from the Central Valley, you should see a similar effect.
So, the next time you are absent-mindedly twirling your wine at the bar, observe the legs and see if you can get a profile for what the wine will taste like before you enjoy it… then see if you were right.