Have you ever noticed, in a restaurant, how after a waiter pours you a glass of wine, he gives it a little swirl? No, it’s not to show off his or her fancy wine pouring skills, it’s to make the wine taste better. Actually, science proves that by swirling your wine, not only will you look sophisticated, but your wine tasting experience will be even better than before. (Who knew that was possible?)
So next time you’re pairing your cheap wine with Chinese food takeout, give it a swirl… for science.
When you swirl your wine, you are adding oxygen to the wine which bonds with the tannin molecules. Don’t know what a tannin is? It’s a naturally occurring compound found within the skin and seeds of grapes. You know when you take a sip of wine and you feel a drying sensation in your mouth? Yep, that’s the tannins of the wine working hard.
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The oxygen helps the wine open up, making it go down smoother. Swirling your wine is like your own miniature decanting process, but your taste buds won’t be the only ones benefiting from you swirling your wine. Swirling your wine also leads to a small amount evaporation within the glass, which means that some of the harsher compounds such as the sulfides and sulfites within the wine will begin to evaporate.
When you swirl your wine, you’re releasing aromatic compounds, also called esters. You may think your cheap Trader Joe’s wine may not have any aromatic compounds, but you probably haven’t tried giving it a lil’ swirl. Some wines have more aromatic compounds than others, which is usually dependent upon the grapes used within the wine. So make like a sommelier and give your glass a twirl, then take a little smell.
But how do you swirl your wine for the first time without looking like a total newbie? Well, some experts have it down to a science.
But if you’re like me and just the slightest look at those math equations and variables make you sick, no need to worry, it’s simple.
For a subtle approach, place the glass of wine on the tabletop and make a few gentle circles with the base. A more overt approach would be to pick the wine glass up, ever so slightly, and make little circles in the air by flicking your wrist. Either method is perfectly fine, and when done for 5 to 10 seconds, will make your wine drinking experience even better.
Remember that if you’re new to wine swirling, you might want to practice a few times at home with a little bit of water and a wine glass before you try out your skills at a five-star restaurant and end up spilling your wine all over your waiter.