skip to main content

understanding wine bodyThe wine body describes how heavy and rich a wine tastes. It results from several variables, including grape variety, alcohol amount, and even sweetness. 

If you're looking for a new favorite, try grapes with the same body or texture. Once you’ve discovered your preferred “weight” ask for other grapes with the same body. Let’s review the various body types of wine to find which wine you will enjoy the most. 

What Is Wine Body?

Wine body is defined as the richness and weight of the wine in your mouth. Alcohol is the essential determinant of the wine body because alcohol adds to the viscosity of the wine. For example, the higher the alcohol content, the greater the viscosity or weight of the wine. 

A grape varietal, oak barrel aging, residual unfermented grape sugars, and grape growing season are all elements that influence the body of a wine. 

How to Tell the Body of a Wine

For most people, it’s easy to taste the difference between whole milk, 2% milk, and skim milk because of the fat level. However, the wine body has a fullness of flavor and it’s more difficult to distinguish because it incorporates a variety of variables that determine its body type. 

Fortunately, there are a few signs on the wine bottle for which you can check, including:

  • Wine with more than 14% alcohol tends to taste fuller-bodied.
  • Some grape varieties yield fuller-bodied wines.
  • Like Bourbon, wines aged in new oak barrels tend to be more full-bodied. Winemakers will sometimes  note oak on the front or rear label.
  • Grapes cultivated in warmer climates yield richer, fuller-bodied wines.
  • Unfermented grape sugars left behind from fermentation will add body without enhancing sweetness. However, this is rarely noted on the label of a wine bottle. 

What Are the Different Wine Body Types?

Light-Bodied Wine

Any wine with an alcohol content of less than 12.5% is considered light-bodied. These are typically crisp and refreshing wines from cooler climates, such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, as well as lighter reds. Because they are so light, these wines pair nicely with foods such as fish and salads. 

Medium-Bodied Wine

Medium-bodied wines have an alcohol content ranging from 12.5% to 13.5%. This category of wines includes Rosé, Sangiovese, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Because of its balanced acidity and tannins, red wine pairs exceptionally well with poultry, roasted vegetables, lightly spiced dark meats, and pasta sauces.

Full-Bodied Wine

Lastly, full-bodied wines often contain an alcohol level of more than 13.5 percent. Even though the vast majority of wines in this category are red, Chardonnay is an example of a full-bodied white wine. Full-bodied wines are substantial and rich enough to be enjoyed on their own, but they also pair well with foods such as steaks, dark chocolate, fermented cheeses, and heavy pasta dishes.

Metro Wines is the best option for all your wine needs in the Asheville region. We feature wine from all over the world, and our knowledgeable staff and sommeliers can help you in finding the perfect bottle for any and all occasions. Contact us for more information about our shop or visit our website to browse our extensive wine selection.