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A 101 Guide to Wine Bodies – Light, Medium & Full

The world of wines can be quite intimidating for a newcomer yet it is equally fascinating. To know how to use the fruit with different permutations and combinations, storing techniques, harvesting methods and then producing a potion that is a delight for all is quite an art and not all can master it. Wine is definitely more than just a drink. It represents culture, hard work of generations and taste that can be unique to every individual. Certainly, there is more to wine than just its appearance, taste and aromas.

Let us dig a little deeper today and understand about wine bodies.

It is usually divided into three broad categories – light body, medium body and full body wine. There are more than one factors that contribute to the body of the wine but the most important one is the ‘alcohol’ in it.

Here are the factors in detail that contribute to the wine body:

● Alcohol: As mentioned above, it is one of the defining factors in knowing wine bodies. This is so because the % of alcohol adds to the viscosity of the wine which in turn defines the mouthfeel as heavy or light. It is important to note that alcohol percentage is directly proportional to the mouthfeel; the higher the alcohol, the heavier the feel.

● Viscosity: It defines the consistency of the drink. It is the viscosity that makes wine look thick or thin affecting its appearance. It is usually acknowledged upon a glass swirl when legs/tears are noticed telling about the wine’s consistency. Viscosity is also affected by the alcohol found in the wine.

● Sugar: It is converted into alcohol using yeast during the process of fermentation. Its presence is directly proportional to alcohol. The higher the sugar content the higher the Alcohol By Volume (ABV).

● Ripening Period: The ripening period of the fruit is dependent on the climate of the region and the variety being harvested. A shorter ripening period is required for grapes in the cooler climate where sugar used would be less. Whereas some varieties ripen naturally and give similar results.

Now, that we know the defining factors of wine bodies, it would be the right time to understand the bodies in detail – light, medium and full.

Light-Bodied Wines

Wines with 12.5% or less alcohol percentage are categorised as light-bodied wines. They have water-like consistency. These wines are easy-drinking, lean and crisp. Great to be served with chicken, seafood and seasonal salads. Usually, white and rose wines are light-bodied. Some of them are Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir. However, Sparkling wines like Italian Prosecco are also crafted with low alcohol content.

Medium-Bodied Wines

Wines with alcohol percentages ranging from 12.5-13.5% are medium-bodied wines. Within this range, they have various styles and variety, for instance, sparkling to rosé, white and red. On the contrary, fortified wines can never be medium-bodied as the standard alcohol content in them is very high. Medium-bodied wines are considered to be food-friendly wines. Some of the popular medium-bodied wines easily available on Just Wines are Merlot, Rosé, and Pinot Grigio along with the renowned French Burgundy.

Full-Bodied Wines

Wines with 13.5% or more alcohol percentage are categorized as full-bodied wines. A lot of wines fall under this ambit like fortified, red & some dry white varietals, those aged partly or fully in oak. Many dessert wines are full-bodied wines. The go-to food with these wines is pepper, sage, creamy mushroom sauces, melted cheese or blue cheese. Some of the popular full-bodied wines are Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauternes, Shiraz & Cab Sav.

Hope this helps to know more about wine bodies and the factors contributing to them.

Author bio of Hugo Brown – Hugo is a wine lover and enthusiast. Tasting wines and sharing insights about wines is his passion. He writes about wines, tasting notes, food recipes that go well with each wine. In short, he’s wine’s best friend.