Wine swirling is an action that you’ll see at many a social gathering involving vino, but few of us are actually aware of how the process actually makes your wine taste better, at least on a scientific level.
It is quite an intriguing chemical reaction. A team of scientists actually carried out an experiment at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland to understand just why swirling wine causes aromas to be released into the bowl.
The swirling process , known as ‘orbital shaking‘ in physics in reference to its circular motion, generates a miniature wine wave that travels around the glass.
To understand the mysteries of “orbital shaking” when it comes to a glass of wine, the academics replicated the conditions of a wine glass by using glass cylinders.
They used technologically advanced devices and sensors to analyse and evaluate these waves, and precisely what they do to the liquid.
In a nutshell, as the liquid travels, it draws in oxygen from the air and intensifies the smell. And the wave created also mixes and churns the vino, a motion that has always been known to help release the bouquet, but the physics of precisely how this works is still poorly understood.
“As the wave propagates along the glass wall, the liquid is displaced back and forth from bottom to top and from the centre to the periphery,” said Dr Mohamed Farhat, who led the study.
“This pumping mechanism, induced by the wave, is more pronounced near the free surface and close to the wall, which enhances the mixing.”
It was also found that different speeds and rotation angles can lead to optimal oxygenation and mixing, resulting in a bigger release of the bouquet. As for discovering the optimal motion for your particular wine glasses… we’re sure you’ll have a great deal of fun finding out!
Unexpectedly, Dr. Farhat’s findings on wine swirling might actually benefit drugs research and also help to inspire new medical treatments. Indeed, in a manner similar to the aeration of a glass of wine, cell cultures are placed in large cylindrical containers and ‘shaken’ to obtain various desired results.
“The intuitive and efficient motion of wine swirling has inspired engineers in the field of biopharmaceuticals,” Dr. Farhat added.
To finish, it’s worth noting that discerning wine enthusiasts also usually smell the bouquet of their wine before swirling, and equally after finishing their glass: these extra steps can at times offer interesting olfactive clues in regards to the wine and its age.
So next time you take a bottle from your home wine cellar, you’ll now know a little more about how to give your glass a sniff and swirl… and what’s happening to the wine inside!
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