A wine’s body describes the texture or weight of wine in mouth. It is an important characteristic of wine. It falls into three categories, full-bodied, medium-bodied and light-bodied. Wine body is not easy to recognize like all others tastes. It takes time and experience to differentiate.
Mainly the weight is due to alcohol, but some other factors like tannins, esters, and acids are also responsible. Wines don’t really have physical weight or they are not thicker or thinner. It is just a sensation in our mouth.
Light-bodied wines usually feel thinner like water. Full-bodied wines feel thicker, heavier more like milk. Medium-bodied wines fall somewhere in between these two.
Wines less than 12.5% alcohol are said to light–bodied wines. Generally white wines fall under this category. The examples are Riesling, Gamay, and pinot noir.
Wines between 12.5 to 13.5% alcohol are considered as medium-bodied wines. Some whites and rose wines fall under this category. Sauvignon blanc, French burgundy, pinot grigio, are the examples of medium bodied wines
Wines more than 13.5% alcohol are considered as full-bodied wines. Merlots, malbec, Shiraz, zinfandel, cabernet are the examples of full-bodied red wines. While the majority of wines over 13.5% alcohols are usually red, but there are some white wines like chardonnay which are full bodied. Some desert wines are also fall into this category because residual sugar adds texture and weight.
Light bodied reds have lighter tannins, bright acidity and slightly lower alcohol content. While full bodied reds are with higher alcohol, and with more tannins.
The body of the wine plays important role in wine and food pairing.
The best way to distinguish between light-bodied, medium-bodied and full-bodied wines is, taste particular types of different wines and learn how the sensation differs.