France. A country full of baguettes, Nutella crepes, and, of course, wine. When I started telling people that I would be studying abroad in this beautiful country, they were full of excitement for me. But, when I told them I would be studying Wine Marketing and Analysis, they thought I was joking. Little did they know, I would soon find a (not so) secret way to determine a wine's alcohol content. 

Yes, this is not a common class that you'd find in the states, but even after just a week, I have learned some valuable information about what a typical glass of wine can tell us... just by looking at it. 

Wine Tears

I know what you're thinking. I do not mean the tears you shed when you're drinking wine at home, alone with your cat (which I am a big offender of). Though there is no shame in these kinds of tears, it is not exactly what I'm talking about.

When I refer to wine tears, I'm talking about those little streaks that run down your glass after you take a sip of wine or swirl it around in your glass. These tears are similar to the streaks that run down your car windows when it rains.

sake, coffee, tea, wine
Spoon University

Wine tears (or legs) can actually tell us a lot about the wine we drink. Despite common myth, wine tears are not an indicator of the quality of wine. However, there is a direct correlation with wine tears and alcohol content. Because alcohol has a lower surface tension than water, droplets will run down the side of the glass. 

That being said, there is a difference between low alcohol wines, high alcohol wines, and even drinks with a stronger alcohol content, like tequila or rum.

While high alcohol wines collect a higher density of droplets on the inside of the glass, lower alcohol wines collect fewer droplets. This makes it easy to determine the alcohol content of wine even if you are unable to read the label or when you're just trying to pass your Wine Marketing class. 

This visual assumption can be confirmed when tasting your wine. Wine with multiple tears will produce more of a burning sensation in the back of your throat, indicating higher alcohol content. Wines with fewer droplets will produce less of that "burning" feeling. 

There's even a difference between white and red wines. For instance, white wine tends to have more viscosity, which means we feel a thicker liquid in our mouths when we taste it. That being said, the tears of white wines tend to flow slower than those of red wines. 

Alex Frank

How does it work?

You might be wondering, is there scientific proof to all of this? Yes, actually. The alcohol from the wine evaporates quickly, leaving a leftover water-wine mix that collects on the sides of the glass. This mixture then falls back into the glass in the form of droplets (tears).

As you can assume, this same trend is present in higher alcohol drinks. Moral of the story: the more tears, the higher the alcohol content. For less sad tears and more wine tears, check out these 7 genius ways to open a wine bottle when you don't have a cork screw.