Physicists Explain Swirling Your Wine Is Good Physics and Not So Pretentious

By , in News Sci/Tech on . Tagged width: , , ,

You might have seen wine tasters swirling their wine before tasting it and thought: “that’s too pretentious for me to do it at home!” It seems like it, but physicists claim this method is just good physics.

Enhancing the Flavor

The action of swirling the wine is called “orbital shaking,” and a subfield of physics named “oenodynamics” backs the idea that the movement indeed enhances the flavor of the wine by mixing it with oxygen.

How did the research start? Martino Reclari was a few years ago a graduate student at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. He was out having dinner with his colleagues and drank some wine when they started talking about wave dynamics created by swirling the wine glasses.

The next weeks, the team started experimenting on a Merlot by filling cylinders of different sizes from their lab and see how different factors influenced the behavior of wine.

Reclari and his colleagues found three factors that affected the behavior of wine:

– The ratio of the level of wine in the recipient to the recipient’s diameter,

– The ratio of the recipient’s diameter to the width of the circular swirling,

– The ratio of the forces that acted on the wine – the one that pushed it to the outside and the one that forced it back inside.

Tweaking these ratios would help create different types of wave dynamics in the glass.

What started as a conversation at a dinner table, ended up as Reclari’s Ph.D. thesis. His analysis and formula he developed with his colleagues can be applied to bioreactors that use the same method to mix batches of nutrients as cells are cultivated in the lab.

Applying The Method to Beer, Cappuccino, and Tea

And if swirling wine is not your thing, a team scientists from Paris used the same motions on a glass of beer, discovering that the foam swirls opposite to the direction of the liquid. The same thing happens with tea scum, cappuccino foam, and powder on the surface of a liquid!

Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.