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Wine tears

Perhaps drinking wine makes you all emotional. Perhaps drinking wine reminds you how you secretly enjoy beer better but then why do you have this weird stemmed glass in your hand? Perhaps you remember your early twenties when you lived in France and okay-to-good wine was very cheap and now you live in a country where okay-to-good wine is no longer cheap and cheap wine is sure to give you a headache the next day. Perhaps drinking whine makes tears run out of your eyes.

Gif of Will Ferrell crying and drinking a glass of wine

Did you ever stop to consider that crying over wine makes the wine cry as well?

Just kidding. I actually wanted to talk about wine tears. Which is the weird phenomenon where a ring of clear liquid forms in a wine of glass that has a bunch of droplets forming from it. Tears of wine. It’s a thing. A chemistry thing.

wine tears
No need to cry, it’ll be alright!

This type of “tears” appears because alcohol, you know that thing that is about 13% of that glass of wine your crying into, has a lower surface tension than water, which is that thing that most of the rest of that wine is made of. So like 85%, plus or minus a percent depending on how much crying you’ve done into the glass.

At the surface of the wine in your glass, where the liquid surface meets the side of the glass, capillary action causes the liquid to rise up the side of the glass. This thin film of liquid contains water and alcohol, both evaporate. Due to the higher vapor pressure of alcohol, it evaporates quicker than the water. This decreases the alcohol concentration in that liquid film, and consequentially also the surface tension, causing more liquid to rise up. Eventually, the liquid forms droplets that fall back into the wine. Gravity, it always gets ya!

A diagram explaining how tears of wine form.
Also called the Marangoni effect, Ξ³ is surface tension.

So there. When you drink wine, just remember, you’re not the only one crying.

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