I believe that there is a very small amount of evaporation of the wine that remains on the side of the glass while swirling it and this evaporation allows me to better appreciate the aromas going on. It's why I like to use a big glass for most of my wines.
Altaholic - There is a clear logic to that. The reason usually cited for using a big glass is that you can have a larger surface area for the volatile compounds to evaporate from, while enclosing them in a tight space. As you state, you are essentially providing an even larger surface area, which in theory, could release more.
It would also be independent of the speed with which you swirl, and any improvement would in fact, be most apparent as the wine comes to rest.
Maximizing and disturbing the surface area is the goal for detecting VOCs. As far as swirling, in any vortex, the velocity is greatest at the edge of the vortex. So sending everything off and out of the glass at top speed doesn't seem to make more sense than simply disturbing the wine.
And as far as enjoying wine - of course you are right - who cares how someone looks. I was only addressing the question of "opening up" and didn't call the person dumb, just the counter-productive act.
But I guess Board-o is right. I remember once standing next to Jancis Robinson and she briefly scratched the side of her nose. I'm going to start doing that when tasting wine.