The Physics of Wine Swirling

A team of physists recently turned their attention to the factors involved in the fluid dynamics of creating the perfect wine swirl. They came up with a mathamatical formula that precisely describes how wine sloshes, and presented their findings this week at the annual American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics:

Unlike the flavor of a perfectly aged pinot, Reclari says, the factors at play aren’t overly complicated. Three factors seemed to determine whether the team spotted one big wave in the wine or several smaller ripples: the ratio of the level of wine poured in to the diameter of the glass; the ratio of the diameter of the glass to the width of the circular shaking; and the ratio of the forces acting on the wine. Those forces affecting the wine were the centrifugal force pushing the liquid to the outside of the glass and the gravitational force shoving the liquid back down.

[Click through for a nice video.]

Finally, physics applied to something useful. Now if they can only figure out how to deliver the flying car they’ve been promising us since about the 50s.

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