Break it Down: Legs and Lees

Nobody likes a pompous wine writer, blabbering on in vocabulary that is above the heads of their audience, but I fell in love with this title, Legs and Lees, and couldn’t let it go. When I sent the link to my mother, it was met with a request to “explain the name of the blog to the uninformed”. Today I will do just that. Cheers Mom!

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Legs: (or ‘tears’) are the leftover wine on the glass when you’ve swirled your wine around. These are a basic indicator of sugar and/or alcohol content – as the alcohol evaporates, the wine-water mixture on the glass starts to fall back to the base of the glass due to gravity. If I can let my inner-nerd shine a bit, this is called the Gibbs-Marangoni Effect. (More info – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marangoni_effect)

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Lees: …are much less elegant. Lees are everything that is left behind in the wine due to the winemaking process – we’re talking dead yeast cells, stems, skins, and seeds. However, what’s beautiful about them is how they can enhance wines. White wines are commonly left in contact with lees when they are in oak barrels, resulting in different flavors being created and adding richness and body to the wine. En Francais, on dit ‘Sur Lie’. This method is used for wines meant for aging, and is engrained in the Champagne production method (but more on that later).

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