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What is Body in Wine?

Become an expert on the wine term "Body"

Become a wine expert (Part 4): Body

Now that we have covered serving temperatures for both red and white wine, along with tannin (remember, it's that coating or dryness on your tongue and mouth), we will be discussing another wine characteristic this in this post: Body.

Body can loosely be defined as how heavy and viscous the wine (or anything else) feels in your mouth.  One easy-to-grasp example to help you understand what I mean is by thinking about the difference between 2% milk and skim milk.  2% milk feels heavier, richer, and more viscous in the mouth. Skim milk feels lighter and more watery.  A lot of people don't know this, but when they add cream to their coffee, one of the main things they are doing is increasing the body of their coffee - making it feel richer and heavier in the mouth.  It is important to note that body relates specifically to "mouthfeel" and not to flavor.

DIY at home: To learn first hand about body in wine, try this at home.  For white wine, grab a bottle of light-bodied Sauvignon Blanc and a bottle of full-bodied Chardonnay (preferably one that is aged on oak - it usually should say on the label).  If you would rather try it with red, grab a bottle of lighter Pinot Noir and a bottle of fuller Cabernet Sauvignon.  First try the Sauvignon Blanc (or the Pinot if you are trying it with red) focusing on how it feels in your mouth - specifically the weight.  Next, try the Chardonnay (or Cabernet), again focusing on how it feels in your mouth.  It is more subtle of a difference than our milk example, but you should be able to feel a difference in the textures of the wines.  If you tried this with red - pay attention to the tannins (the Cabernet should generally have more than the Pinot).  For those of you who tried this with white, you may have noticed something crisp in the wine that made your mouth pucker.  What you noticed is acid - which is very prevalent in Sauvignon Blanc (and Pinot Noir too!) If you have any questions, feel free to email me at bob@winestyr.com or reach out to me on twitter (@bobfwilson).  Cheers!

Robert Wilson, CSW

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