So. You're sitting in a restaurant and the waiter brings you a glass of the wine you've ordered. You wait until he's out of range, then your hand slips gently toward the stem of your wine glass. You feel the primal swirl.

Swirling is an important step in enjoying any wine, provided that it's in a glass and not served to you in a Dixie Cup or something. The act of swirling throws a thin film of wine on the sides of the glass, and this then evaporates and leaves behind the concentrated aromas of the wine. Stick your nose in there, right into the bowl, and inhale. If you've ordered a quality wine, you might smell all kinds of pleasant things such as peaches or pears (in some white wines), or maybe chocolate or spice (in some red wines). if you've ordered a crappy wine, you may smell things such as wet cardboard, sherry (assuming you didn't order a glass of sherry), or perhaps nothing special at all. And remember: your sense of smell is a key partner of your sense of taste, so you may enjoy your wine more if you give it a good smell first.

As your swirling wine settles in its glass, you'll also notice the residual liquid "tearing" back into the rest of the wine. These are called tears or (more often) a wine's legs. People have various therories about what these legs say about the wine, but in most cases they're just fooling themselves. All this will tell you is the relative alcohol content of your wine: more tears equals higher alcohol.

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