Tears of Wine

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Give your wine glass a swirl and afterward you may notice little rivulets of wine along the side of your glass. These so-called “tears of wine” or “wine legs” are caused by a combination of evaporation, surface tension, and gravity. After the glass has been swirled, alcohol from the thin layer of wine on the glass wall quickly evaporates, leaving behind a fluid that is more watery than the wine in the glass. Since water has a higher surface tension than alcohol or wine, it pulls more fluid up the wall via the Marangoni effect. This carries on until enough wine is pulled up to form a droplet that’s heavy enough to slide down the glass. This up-and-down exchange of fluid is nicely illustrated in the video above, where the tiny particles in the wine help show how flow gets drawn up even as your eye follows the drops sliding down. (Video credit: A. Athanassiadis and K. Khalil; submitted by Thanasi A.)

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