WINE 101

Why swirling wine in a glass makes it taste better

Wine tasting has three main phases, each using one of your senses: sight, smell, and taste. In terms of timing, swirling sits in between step one, which is sight, the visual observation of the wine, and step two, which is smell, the perception of the scents of the wine through your nose.

Why do people swirl wine?

The idea behind swirling your wine comes down to the all important oxidation or “breathing” process. Oxygen and wine have a complicated relationship. In the beginning, oxygen is really great for a wine, because as soon as a wine encounters oxygen, it begins to break down, which most people refer to as a wine “opening up.” As the wine opens, it gives off its aromas and also softens, which is good. But if you let a wine sit in a glass exposed to oxygen for too long, say overnight, the oxygen will fully oxidize the wine, ruining it and leaving it with an unpleasant taste that can be flat and even bitter.

You would have understood it, when swirling, the aromas concentrate in the glass above the surface of the wine much more than if you don’t agitate. When you stop swirling, stick your nose into the glass. That’s when the maximum amount of aromas will be revealed, so you can smell all the subtle nuances and fragrances.

This phenomenon also explains why the shape of a wine glass is so important. Wine tastes better in a good glass.

How does one swirl?

Everyone has their own unique technique for swirling wine, and that’s OK. The easiest way to start swirling is to place your thumb and forefinger at the base of a stemmed wine glass while it’s siting on the table. Then, draw little circles on the table while gripping the base of the glass.

While some people like to pick the wine glass up and slightly flick their wrist, thereby making little circles in the air. Finally, others like to be extremely showy with their swirling, making grandiose motions like they’re getting ready to lasso a steer. It is not necessary to give a hard shake to the wine, so please just slightly flick your wrist making little circles in the air. The oldest the vintage of your wine, the most the wine needs to open up.

Do we have to swirl a glass of sparkling wine?

Is not valid for sparkling wines. The carbonation does the swirling for you: The aromas and flavors in the wine are enhanced by the escaping bubble. If you swirl excessively, you run the risk of causing the wine go to go prematurely flat — like a bottle of soda that has been excessively shaken.

Last tips if you want to practice at home, do it with your best wine glass and with water to avoid bad surprises 😉

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