That wine's got 'legs'!
This phenomenon is called "legs," and it's a wine-appreciation concept that I believe enjoyed more attention during earlier generations than it does today.
Here's why: The appearance (or non-appearance) of "legs" in the glass doesn't really tell you anything that you can't determine better by tasting the wine. It shows the presence of some viscosity in the wine, which may be the result of sugar, glycerin or alcohol. But since the sense of taste is a better way to gauge the wine's texture than merely watching it drip down the glass, checking "legs" is really not a very useful exercise. If you follow tasting notes by the experts (or even mine!), you'll notice that few modern wine reports mention this. Looking over my older wine books, I find both Frank Schoonmaker ("New Encyclopedia of Wine," 1988 edition) and Michael Broadbent ("Pocket Guide to Wine Tasting," 1982) give short shrift to "legs." Schoonmaker notes that they reflect primarily alcohol and are "not a useful guide to quality." Broadbent writes, laconically, "I have never been a 'leg' man myself."
Why mention the topic at all, then? Two reasons: First, the term is so widely known that one of the most frequent wine questions I hear is, "what are 'legs'?" Second, as I have sometimes pointed out about checking a wine's color and clarity, although it's true that we don't learn too much by merely looking at wine, I find that the simple act of pausing to observe the wine rather than grabbing the glass and slugging it down helps me get into the frame of mind to slow down, take my time, and fully enjoy the wine. It doesn't hurt to look before you slurp!
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A delicious California dessert wine
Clear bright amber color, with a delicious and heady scent of fresh juice oranges, this fresh, appealing dessert wine follows through with a tart-sweet, intense bitter-orange flavor structured by crisp, bracing acidity. What it may lack in complexity, it makes up in exuberance: It's a fine, affordable sweet wine, well suited for dessert or brunch.
FOOD MATCH: Personally, I prefer dessert wines as dessert rather than with dessert, but this one would do nicely with fruit or caramelized-sugar desserts like crème caramel or crème brûlée.
Favorite national or regional cuisine?
'Behind the Vine' vineyard tours
Munch a warm handful of lightly salted Black Jewel popcorn, then take a sip of chilled Laurens Brut ... once you discover how well bubbly pairs with popcorn, it may become your standard fare for watching movies at home, game nights, or elegantly down to earth hors d'oeuvres. Wine.com invites everyone to enjoy this perfectly matched pair. The extraordinary Black Jewel kernels start out black, then pop into amazing snow-white puffs with black centers. Click on: http://www.wine.com/sku/gift_sku.jsp?sku=0p22293&link_from=rgarr_adv_popcorn.
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
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Vol. 2, No. 24, July 3, 2000