ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have heard the term “fingers” with regards to the wine on the side of the glass. What gives the wine this note?

—Michael K., Williamsburg, Va.

Dear Michael,

After you swirl a wineglass and the liquid starts to settle, you’ll notice transparent streaks that trickle down the side of the glass. I’ve heard these streaks referred to as “tears,” “legs” and “fingers,” and I find it a bit strange when people comment on them. The streaks are caused by alcohol, so as long as your wine has alcohol it in, these fingers will appear, to no big surprise. It’s said that the higher the alcohol content, the more streaks you’ll see, but since most wines out there are within a few percentage points of one another, I don’t find that there’s much you can tell from staring at these streaks.

—Dr. Vinny


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