If you’ve ever encountered a wine snob who can’t back up said level of snobbery with actual knowledge, chances are they said something like, ‘Man, look at the legs on this wine!’ ‘Legs’ are the clear lines of liquid that run (Legs? Run? Get it?!) down the inside of your glass after you’ve given the wine a good swirl, and the most important thing about them is that they’re actually not important.
Common wisdom (or really, lack thereof) around wine legs holds that they’re a measure of quality, but that’s nonsense; the only thing legs ‘measure’ is the alcohol content of a given wine. More legs? Higher alcohol. That’s it, and that’s why the legs in something like a California cabernet sauvignon or zinfandel (which can commonly hit or exceed 14.5%) are so much more pronounced.
Now, a bit of science: when you swirl your wine and it gets up and around the sides of the glass, the alcohol immediately starts to evaporate. The remaining water then condenses into those ‘tears’ and flows back down thanks to our ol’ pal gravity.
So there you go. Legs = an indication of alcohol content, and not much more.