Once again, hold tight to the stem or base and slowly swirl that red wine!  With its color intensity compared to white wine, the impacts of swirling will be even easier to detect and describe.

Swirl:  What happens to the wine glass when you swirl a red wine around in circles.

  • Aroma Opening – before you swirl a red wine, take a deep inhale and note what you smell and how intense the smell is.  Then swirl.  Smell again and compare.  As with white wine, more exposure to oxygen allows the wine to breathe and offer greater insight into the wine itself.  As we have learned, your nose will introduce you to what you soon will taste.
  • Tearing – swirl to create the “tears” or “legs” on the glass.  With its deeper color, red wine will more easily give you clues as to its alcohol level (heavy slow drips for high alcohol, quick, watery drips for lower alcohol). 

Wines with higher levels of alcohol have more prominent tears or “legs” and move more slowly down the glass as a result of the higher viscosity created by the increased alcohol.

  • Staining – much more relevant in red wines, staining refers to any residual color from the wine leaving slight discoloration on the wine glass.