Photo by Peter Thoeny

Tears of Wine

For almost as long as people have been drinking wine, they’ve been wondering about a curious phenomenon: the tears of

For almost as long as people have been drinking wine, they’ve been wondering about a curious phenomenon: the tears of wine. Andrea Bertozzi, UCLA professor of mathematics, and her research team have found a new way to explain why and how this happens. 

After wine is poured into a glass and swirled, a thin film of the liquid creeps up the glass.That happens because the alcohol in wine evaporates faster than the water, and the resulting difference in surface tension pulls the wine upwards.

Pour whisky or port (for higher alcohol concentration) into a conical glass, immediately cover the glass to stop evaporation, swirl the liquid slowly to coat the glass and remove the cover after a few seconds when the swirl disappears.

Andrea Bertozzi, department of mathematics professor at UCLA, and her research team, including Yoni Dukler, PhD student in applied mathematics; Hangjie Ji, assistant adjunct professor in the department of mathematics; and Claudia Falcon, Assistant Adjunct Professor in the department of mathematics.

UCLA Physical Sciences’ Tears of Wine Video

UCLA scientists explain why a glass of wine cries

Andrea Bertozzi and other researchers in the department of Mathematics at UCLA, were most recently featured in Nature, for their research on the ‘tears of wine’. Bertozzi and her colleagues have identified shock waves that help explain why thin drops of liquid continuously creep up the side of our wine glasses. In this most recent Nature article, they explain how to test and see this interaction at home!

American Mathematical Society – Solving the mystery of the wine legs
Andrea Bertozzi spoke on a podcast with the American Mathematical Society, describing how although many people believe these ‘tears of wine’ are an indicator of the quality of wine they actually form because of the alcohol in the wine. She describes how herself and her research team have built a theory built on differential equations to describe the tiny shock waves in the wine glass.

Advanced Science News- Tears of Joy
Advanced Science News reported on Bertozzi’s presentation of the ‘tears of wine’ at the American Physical Society meeting in Boston, Massachusetts in 2019. Bertozzi explained that her research group revisited the problem of ‘tears of wine’ because they noticed that the seminal equations were missing.

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