The Simple Truth About Swirling

We finished last week by answering one of the more common questions we get—one dealing with tannins in wine.

Perhaps that served as motivation for others to write in, as we received a number of queries over the weekend. Let’s kick off the new week by answering one of them…

QUESTION: I’ve seen some people splash around the wine in their glass before drinking it. What’s the purpose of that, and is it necessary?

ANSWER: It’s absolutely not necessary…but it’s also not a bad idea.

The action you describe is known as swirling, and it’s one reason wine glasses are not filled to the brim in restaurants. Imagine trying to swirl with a full glass; the result would be similar to a toddler’s first encounter with a “topless” drink cup.

Swirling a wine helps release its aroma. It’s particularly helpful with younger red wines, which can be a bit “closed in” for several minutes after the bottle is opened. The process introduces air to the wine more quickly, and air helps the wine release its aromas and flavors.

Experienced tasters know that a wine’s aroma spectrum is directly related to its flavor spectrum. Thus, smelling a wine will provide clues about how it is going to taste.

So, while swirling certainly isn’t necessary, it’s one of those actions that can enhance the wine “experience.”

Have a question about wine? Send it to us via the Comments box below. We love hearing from you.

Posted in Wine FAQ
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