Wine ABC: What is Wine Body

Wine ABC: What is Wine Body

Post on 15 FEB, 2023

During the wine tasting process, one often hear wine lovers descripting the “body” of the wine, such as “I like this full-bodied red wine” or “This white wine is relatively light-bodied”. What exactly does “wine body” refer to? How to concretely feel the “wine body”?

“Wine body”

“Wine body” can be understood as the weight of wine. It is not a very abstract thing. You may imagine that the body of a wine is like a human body: fat, thin, heavy, light, bloated, slender, and well-proportioned. To be more concrete, wine body is the weight a wine gives you in the mouth, and that weight depends on how much substance is in the wine—the more substance in the wine, the more weight the wine has on the mouth and tongue. The “heavier” the wine, the fuller, richer it will taste.

So what exactly does a light-bodied wine and a full-bodied wine feel like? Imagine that you are drinking three beverages: one is water, one is fresh orange juice, and the other is pure honey. Ignore the difference in their taste and just focus on their mouthfeel. The relative perception of these three drinks could be: light-bodied is thin and watery, medium-bodied is as full as fresh orange juice, and full-bodied is as thick and rich as honey – of course, this is just a relative perception and only the concept is reflected. It doesn’t mean that light-bodied wines taste as light as water, and full-bodied wines also are not as thick as honey. The lines between light, medium and full-bodied wines are less clear.

Some drinkers may equate bitterness and tannins in wine with body, or that fuller-bodied wines tend to be deeper in color. This is not entirely true. If only tannic and deep-colored wines could be the full-bodied, then all white wines can only be the “light-bodied” (since white wines are very light in color and low in tannins compared to red wines) – this is obviously not true. Full-bodied white wines do exist, and botrytis sweet wine is the best example. A few more examples: the famous Barolo, known as the “King of Wines”, is a medium to full bodied wine that, while rich in tannins, is not deep in color; Grenache is relatively light in color and low in tannin, but can often – especially in hot regions – produce full-bodied wines. White wines that are aged in oak barrels and/or on lees (dead yeast) can also achieve fuller, rounder body.

As mentioned earlier that wine body depends on the amount of substances in the wine, so now can you tell what substances contribute to the body of a wine?

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