Got legs?

Weeping wine!

Let me start by saying, I consider myself more of a wine geek than a wine snob. As someone who’s vocation is wine, I meet people all the time who love to share their favorite wines, favorite labels, and demonstrate their considerable knowledge about wine. I suck at remembering labels, or the name of a given iconic wine maker, or wine, but I digress; In my humble opinion (so says the narcissist!) there is one dead give-away that nails a bona fide wine snob. Legs… yes I said legs.

I vividly remember trying to join the wine club in the glorious yuppie dominated 80s. It was common to sit around the back yard on a nice summer day sipping the iconic oak aged California Chardonnay – known as a big, buttery, spicy Chardonnay. We used to swirl the wine and then watch with rapt attention as it slowly slid down the side of the glass, leaving behind rivulets of wine called legs (or tears in France). These legs were the topic of many a “quality” conversation. “Oh, look at those legs”, “they are so heavy”, “must be a very good bottle of wine!” Of course, no one really knew what the legs really meant, but they sure were cool… and truly, legs create beautiful patterns on the side of a wine glass.

But frankly, they have NOTHING to do with the quality of the wine. Yet the leg-lore persists, only now, when someone brings up legs, those of us (ok, so maybe we are snobs too) in the business give each other the knowing look… “oh, it’s one of them”, “let’s have some fun, let’s ask them what they think about those legs”.  So, I’m here to help you. I’m here to save you from the “leg” faux pas! Legs offer two basic clues about a wine, and have NOTHING to do with its quality. The two elements are

  1. Sugar
  2. Alcohol

Both are a lesson in physics. Alcohol has to do with evaporation and surface tension on the glass. Sugar has to do with viscosity. In both instances, legs offer clues about the wine, but that’s all! So the next time you’re out tasting you can either bate your fellow wine snobs with their “leg” knowledge (like I commonly will) or be an anecdotal kook (again, like me) and tell them what the legs really mean. In either case, knowing the truth will set you free from the sniggers of the wine geeks of the world! Or, if you want to be truly cosmopolitan, comment on the tears!


3 Responses to “Got legs?”

  1. 1 Brian Reid
    January 9, 2010 at 9:14 am

    I always find your comments on this funny since you were the one who taught me about legs. :)

  2. January 4, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Hi there! This article couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my
    previous roommate! He always kept talking about this.
    I most certainly will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he
    will have a very good read. Thank you for sharing!

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Patrick Bartlett

A conversation about food, wine, and the art of living well!


January 2010
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