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The Latest News and Ramblings

A place to share various news, stories and video about wine, travel, winemaking


Scott Kelley
December 1, 2021 | Scott Kelley

"Nice legs.... why thank you!"

“Nice legs…. why thank you!”

While we all know the story of this lamp, wine legs have a legacy of their own…

Let’s admit it, we have all had that wine expert friend or family member tell us “Wow this wine has nice legs.”  Ever wonder why people look at the legs of a wine and what it tells them? The legs running down the inside of your glass are actually alcohol. The more legs the more alcohol (try putting some vodka in a wine glass, talk about legs!!).

So, what does this tell us, and should we really evaluate a wine based on its legs? Well for the answer we must go back about 800 hundred years to when English wine merchants were tasked with buying wine to bring back to the castles of England. In those days it was exceedingly difficult to get grapes ripe without some sort of terrible weather, pest or disease event forcing an early harvest. However, when those great vintages came along that allowed the grapes to ripen a bit longer, they developed more flavor and sugar. These vintages were sought after for being of higher quality because they had more hang time which in turn usually meant higher sugar. Since more sugar means more alcohol in the finished wine, merchants would use the legs of the wine to evaluate the wine’s “ripeness” with hopes of purchasing the best wine.  Keep in mind the alcohol of wine back then was much lower than we typically see today. A wine with 10-11% alcohol would have been high back then! Today of course you can just look at the label to see the alcohol and of course higher alcohol does not necessarily mean higher quality.

So, the next time someone holds up a glass to look at the legs, you can explain to them that they may want to just look at the label if they want to know the alcohol.



Time Posted: Dec 1, 2021 at 11:00 AM Permalink to Permalink
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