how to swirl


There’s poetry in the glass, they say. I agree, but I think there’s perfume in the glass too. Today we’re talking “Why We Swirl”.

Most #winelovers can all agree that we love to sniff our wine, especially when trying a bottle of something new.  It’s one of the key steps in the see-swirl-sniff-savour school of tasting. But did you know that swirling creates a wine vortex in your glass?

This delicious vortex makes it easier to identify which flavours we’re smelling and can make our wine taste better. As the wine courses up the sides of the glass, it creates a lot of surface area to interact with oxygen, like a mini-decanter treatment. This loosens up all the volatile scent compounds, and the swirling vortex takes them up to your nose.

If you want maximum pleasure out of your wine (don’t we all), this move is your new best friend. It’s especially helpful for what the wine snobs calls “Elegant” wines, aka those that don’t have much of a bouquet, or tannic wines that need a bit of softening. The wines I take care to be gentle with are sparkling or really old; I don’t want to disperse those gorgeous bubbles or injure them!

The Trick to Swirling

Now that we know how much tastier a wine can smell by creating our wine vortex, let’s talk the #1 trick you need to know: put less wine in your glass than normal. What? Less wine in my glass, are you crazy!

That’s right, I’m asking you to hold back on your pour, leaving your glass more half-empty than half-full. The ideal pour will sit just below the widest part of the bowl of the glass.

*More empty space = more room to swirl up a storm*

In my WSET class, we use the pro ISO tasting glasses, that hold about an ounce of wine, and taste every kind of wine from them. At home, I like a glass that isn’t too big, has an elegant stem, and a nice thin rim.

Two Techniques to Try

My time tested, party-approved swirling methods are the Freehand Swirl and the Tabletop Swirl. Fox maximum effect, you need to swizzle for just 5 to 10 seconds. Don’t wear your wine out!

To achieve the more attention-getting Freehand Swirl, grasp the glass near the bottom of the stem, just above the foot, with your thumb and two fingers. Pinching the stem, rotate your wrist in a counterclockwise circle, as vigorously as you dare (southpaws: go clockwise). Extra points for Gryffindor if you can hold your glass aloft to admire its colour at the same time. If you need a little extra help to stabilize the glass, tuck your pinkie finger under the foot.

When a more subtle move is called for, employ the Tabletop Swirl. Setting your glass on the table, place the stem between your first two fingers, and rest the top of your palm lightly on the glass’s foot. Move your hand in a small counterclockwise circle, and watch the magic happen. This move is a little more devil-may-care, but like Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies, don’t be afraid to “make it sexy“!

So go on, grab your wineglass, pour in just the right amount of wine – remember: less than normal – and give both techniques a try.

Breathe Out Before You Breathe In

Last tip of the day, and it’s an important one: as you finish swirling, breathe out fully, then as your nose approaches the glass inhale the sweet, sweet wine vortex you’ve created.

Enjoy, and leave a comment below: which technique do you prefer?