As a wine lover, there are many terms we use regularly - some with varying levels of authority and expertise! That is to say, a lot of jargon is tossed around in circles of wine lovers. We’ve discussed important properties in wine like tannins, but many are wondering what it means when winemakers and experts talk about body.
When we think about the term body we think about shape, fullness, size. But, what does the term body describe in a wine? What, for example, is a light bodied wine?
Simply put, there are three bodies of wine: full, medium and light. Each has its own desirable descriptors. When you look up the profile of a wine you will see body among the list of specifics. Body is about how a wine feels in our mouths. Which if you think about it, conjures some of the same sensuality as the term when used to refer to human bodies.
A light bodied wine is characterized by its lean and delicate nature. The viscosity or consistency of a light bodied wine can be likened to the lightness of water itself. Perhaps it is starting to sound like a light bodied wine is simple, thin or maybe even undesirable. On the contrary, light bodied wines are sought after because they pair well with light foods like chicken and salmon.
Pinot noir can often be counted among the light bodied. A light bodied pinot noir can be described as smooth and easy to drink. Pinot boir brands like Rainstorm, make a delicious, light bodied pinot noir that can be enjoyed with many summer dishes. Whether it’s chicken or fish or really any vegetable ensemble, a light bodied pinot noir is going to be a lovely accompaniment.
Wine structure refers to the main elements of a wine that one can assess while tasting. Meaning, you do not need to be a wine expert to pick on these elements. They are acidity, sweetness, body (if you remember, we have discussed that the term body refers to the viscosity or consistency of a wine. For example, a light bodied wine can be likened to water in its lightness), alcohol and tannin (another reminder is due here: tannin refers to the bitterness, astringency and complexity of the wine).
Talking about wine structure is really a way of providing flavor descriptors. For example, if you are interested in a low acidity wine you typically won’t go into a shop, restaurant or tasting room and ask for something low acidity. Rather, you might express that your preference is not for sour wines. A sour wine suggests higher levels of acidity. Acidity reduces the ability to perceive the sweetness of a wine and can even make your mouth water. For some people that is a highly desirable feature, but for many low acidity wines are easier to drink and all around more enjoyable.
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are all examples of low acidity wines. If these are the wines you typically enjoy most you can think about the structure more in terms of flavor. For example, you may decide you prefer a sweeter white wine and try different Chardonnays.
If you’ve been frustrated by the difficult nature of describing the wine you know you want - you’ve tasted it but what are the words to describe it - you may be relieved to learn more about wine structure. This will open up a new world of communication and help ensure you are able to get your point across and seek out the wines you love and enjoy the most.
Riesling is an extremely versatile grape capable of producing world-class wines in all styles from bone dry to sparkling to intensely sweet. No other grape is able to express itself through this full stylistic spectrum with such grace and competence. Riesling is able to do so both because of its high natural acidity and potential to develop high sugar levels.
For wine, acidity is a great ally. Acidity is a natural preservative, allowing wines to age and develop more gracefully (and longer) in the bottle, while providing the structure or backbone around which the wine is built. Acidity also provides a counterpoint to sweetness and has a balancing effect upon wines that are made with measurable residual sugar.
When we drink wine, acidity provides our palates with a sensation of freshness, brightness and liveliness. The acidity cleanses our palate when consuming food, helping to keep us interested in both what we are eating and drinking. Wines without sufficient acidity can appear dull, boring or flat, or as if nothing is there to hold them together (lacking balance and harmony).
There’s a Riesling to fit any situation and circumstance—to pair with cuisine as diverse as the lightest seafood and salads to the richest meat dishes and complex sauces to even sweet desserts. The fun challenge is discovering the right Riesling for a particular food or occasion.
- Big Night – U.S.
- Tampopo – Japan
- Woman On Top – U.S.
- Bella Martha – Germany
- Babette’s Feast – Denmark
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s – U.S.
- La Grande Bouffe – France
- Like Water for Chocolate – Mexico
- Eat, Drink, Man, Woman – Taiwan
- The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, Her Lover – French/UK