Another wine characteristic that we all should be familiar with is a wine’s body. A wine’s body simply refers to how heavy or viscous it feels in your mouth. It is important that I mention that a wine’s body relates specifically to how it feels in your mouth (“mouth feel”) and not to flavors. Mouth feel has no flavor.
One example that is used a lot to help us understand body is to compare the difference between various milk types. Skim milk would be considered light, whole milk would be considered medium and cream would be considered heavy.
Another method used to determine a wine’s body, or heaviness, is its alcohol level. The higher the alcohol percentage, the fuller the body is most likely going to be. The reason alcohol is a big contributor to a wine’s body is because alcohol is what gives wine its viscosity. Viscosity is defined as the “state of being thick.” Usually in a good wine you can’t taste alcohol but alcohol can have an impact on the feeling of the wine. It often gives you a hot sensation and a warming in your throat and mouth.
A wine’s body breaks down into three categories: light body, medium body and full body. How can we define these weights? Here are some general rules of thumb:
- Wines under 12.5% alcohol (7.5% to 12.5%) are said to be light-bodied. These are generally white wines such as Riesling, Pinot Gris and Albariño.
- Wines with alcohol levels between 12.5% and 13.5% are typically referred to as medium-bodied wines. These wines would include Sauvignon Blanc, Rosés, French Burgundy and Pinot Noir.
- Any wine over 13.5% alcohol is considered a full-bodied wine. Most full-bodied wines are red including Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz and Zinfandel. A Chardonnay is an example of a white wine that is often considered a full-bodied wine.
As I have mentioned, when considering the body of wine we judge by how thick it feels in the mouth. A light-bodied wine will feel thin and may have more acidity. As you move to more medium-bodied wines they will feel thicker and when you get to a heavy-bodied wine it will feel much thicker. Heavy-bodied wines will have a tendency to make your mouth feel like it has been coated by the wine.
Your homework is to start tasting various wines from light-bodied to full-bodied to determine which, if any, you like better than another. Personally I like all three types and what food I might be pairing with the wine makes a big impact on which of the three I might choose to drink. My go-to wine has been, for a long time, full-bodied reds that are well balanced. What is yours?
July Wine Dinner
Our next wine club dinner, with a German theme, is planned for Wednesday, July 24, 2019, at LEX 530 Metropolitan Event Center in Elkhart. Cost is $85 per person. Check out the menu here and then buy your tickets here.
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Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- August 1 – International Albariño Day
- August 4 – National White Wine Day
- August 18 – International Pinot Noir Day
- August 29 – International Cabernet Day
- September 20 – International Grenache Day
- November 7 – International Merlot Day
- November 14 – International Tempranillo Day
- November 20 – International Zinfandel Day
- December 4 – Cabernet Franc Day
- December 20 – National Sangria Day
- December 31 – National Champagne Day