Watch those Wine Legs

Myth: The “legs” of a wine tell you the amount of alcohol

The common wine myth that legs somehow reveal the quality of a wine is misleading. (1)

We do a lot of wine tasting, and invariably someone will raise their glass and proclaim their analysis of the streaks down the sides of the glass, often called “legs” in America, or “tears.” A belief that if you observe the difference in thickness of the translucent strands from one glass to another, you can tell if the bottle is lower or higher in alcohol is, to be frank, mostly a snobbish affectation.

“A lot of it has to do with the pomp and circumstance surrounding wine tasting in the first place. Wine tasting has become so serious and intimidating that many people try to analyze everything they possibly can instead of simply sitting back and enjoying the wine in their glass.” (2)

They legs of a wine are a function of a complex array of factors: the amount of alcohol, its rate of evaporation, ambient temperature and humidity, the surface tension between wine and glass, and the amount of residual sugar.

While looking at the legs may be a popular pastime, it is more pomp and ceremony than truth. If you want to really know the amount of alcohol in the wine, check the label.

So appreciate wine legs for what they are, beautiful streaks in the glass that add beauty and nuance to the wine you’re consuming. (2)


(1) What are “Legs” in a Wine. (2023).

(2) Teeter, A. (9/2015). Myth Busted – Don’t Worry About A Wine’s “Legs”; Vinepair.