Category Archives: Science of Wine

Cooking with Wine

cooking with wineCC image courtesy of skampy.

Posted by Nathan Taylor on April 11, 2013.

I hardly ever watch cooking shows anymore.  As much as I love all things food and wine, I just don’t see the value in cooking shows.  In fact, if I see another energetic, pseudo-soccer-mom try to sell me on a meal of taco meat crammed into puff pastry, if I have to listen Guy Fieri blabber with his mouth overflowing with the very food he describes, or watch another chef try to act handsome, approachable, or “edgy,” I’m not sure what I’ll do.

But the worst part is this: TV cooks often give the wrong advice.  After working in a professional kitchen on and off for three years, learning cooking from the ground up, I’m often disappointed to see TV cooks misleading viewers or focusing on the wrong parts of cooking.  For the sake of brevity, I have decided to focus on one aspect: cooking with wine.  And I have decided to focus on one bit of poor advice: that you should cook with wine of a quality you would drink. Continue reading

Check Out Those Legs: The Science behind Wine Tears

26546970_53ab2f1c08_zCC Image courtesy of Kalense Kid.

Posted by Lauren Thomas on March 4, 2013.

If you enjoy a glass of wine while reading this blog, this is a perfect opportunity to perform a quick chemistry experiment.  (And if you don’t have a glass of wine at hand, here’s a great reason to go pour one!)  Either take a sip of wine or swirl your glass, then check out the surface on the inside of the glass.  You should notice a thin film of wine, which will drip down the sides of the glass back to the surface of the wine.  The descending film is referred to as wine “tears” or “legs.”  This phenomenon is easy to create, but how does it happen, and can it tell us anything about the wine?

How it happens has a beautifully scientific explanation.  Wine is made up of minerals, polyphenols, sugars, acids, glycerol, ethanol (alcohol), and, mostly, water.1  These last two components are especially important in the formation of wine tears due to their different chemical properties.  Wine tears are formed because ethanol evaporates more quickly and is more non-polar than water.  Ethanol is also surface-active in wine; this results in a higher concentration of ethanol molecules than water molecules at the surface of wine.  Ethanol’s ability to evaporate more quickly than water, particularly at the thinnest part of the film (on the sides of the glass), will leave behind more watery wine in that area.  Then, surface tension starts to come into play.  Continue reading