Why do you swirl wine was the question asked this weekend.
At our BBQ gathering we opened a few new bottles of wine. Everyone was swirling away and then someone popped the question, “why are you swirling”?
To simply answer the question with a little scientific technical information, swirling releases the esters, ethers and aldehydes that are in wine and when combined with the oxygen the wine’s aromas are released.
Simple, yes, but oxygen is not really wine friendly. Wine is bottled and sealed to keep if from being exposed to oxygen. If a wine is over exposed to oxygen it will oxidize which changes the color of the wine, the flavors change and the wine spoils.
BUT oxygen can be selectively important. Swirling wine in a glass immediately after the bottle has been uncorked exposes it to oxygen which, at this time, is a good thing for wines that have been in the bottle for a few years. It gives the wine a chance to awaken, or open up.
The fruit aromas and the bouquet come alive. The oxygen also mellows out the tannins in some wines. This heightens our senses and allows us to enjoy and appreciate the wine, and it’s also part of the wine tasting experience.
Swirling wine in the glass is not always necessary but many so-called ‘experts’ say that they find themselves swirling their glasses without realizing they are doing it.
It doesn’t hurt the wine, but some wines will not benefit from being “dizzied” with extra oxygen. So swirl responsibly and taste wine and enjoy the aromas and flavors of the wine.