Swirl: What happens to the wine glass when you swirl a white wine around in circles.
Carefully holding your wine glass by the base or stem on a smooth, flat surface, gently move the glass in small circles. Start slowly, then gain enough momentum the wine easily swirls up the sides, but does not spill over the edge. Fun, right? Feel free to swirl your glass a few times as each one will enhance your enjoyment by bringing out the best in the wine’s aroma and flavor.
Aroma Opening – swirling a wine around in a glass can “open it up” simply meaning exposing it to more oxygen and giving your nose more clues about the wine by the way it smells. The human nose, and sense of smell, can identify thousands of different aromas while the tongue can only distinguish sweet, sour, salty, bitter, savory and “umami”. Swirling wine in the glass exposes the aromas and the shape of a wine glass (narrower at the opening) captures them for your nose to enjoy. Sniff before, swirl, sift after – your nose will thank you!
Tearing – swirl again but this time watch how the wine drips down the inside of the glass. This is referred to as “tearing” or “legs”. If it drips quickly down and disappears quickly (think water), this indicates a wine with lower alcohol. If the drips are heavier and stick to the glass while slowly joining the wine in the bowl of the glass, higher alcohol levels and a heavier or richer wine are causing this effect (think oil).
Staining – while less relevant to white wine than red wine, staining refers to any residual color from the wine which sticks to the glass when swirling. Some sweet wines created by evaporating most of the juice out of the grape either in the vineyard or after harvest can appear to stain as they have heavy tears and are likely to be deeper into amber or brown colors.