Twirling a wineglass gently creates smooth arcs in the liquid that then circle, coating the sides of the glass. The gesture isn't just for appearances, says study co-author Martino Reclari, who studies fluid dynamics at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. Scientists and enthusiasts alike have long known that the swirling motion mixes oxygen into a red, enhancing its flavor.
One evening over their own bottle of wine, Reclari and colleagues decided to tackle the physics of this oenological routine. The team filled up small cylinders in a range of sizes with different volumes of a cheap merlot, then set them spinning. To keep things uniform, the researchers employed gyrating machines, commonly used to mix liquids precisely in biology or chemistry labs. This week, at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics in Baltimore, Maryland, the group reported a mathematical formula explaining how wine sloshes.