Search Articles

Please Share

FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousStumbleuponGoogle BookmarksRedditTechnoratiLinkedin

Subscribe to Blog via RSS

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


Search for Events


Most Read Articles

Body Count - On Describing the Body of Wine

Despite being odorless and tasteless, body is an important character in wine. It adds to, or detracts from, our pleasure in drinking. In blind tastings body provides a clue as to varietal and regional origin. It is a key factor in wine and food pairing too, ideal matches being similar in weight.

What is body in wine?

Body is the perceived thickness of a wine in one’s mouth. Think about how water feels in your mouth. Now think about vodka. Vodka feels more viscous than water because of the alcoholic content. Maple syrup is much thicker than water because of the dissolved sugar.

The amount of body in a wine is determined by the levels of alcohol, sugar, other soluble fruit extract (pectin, phenols, proteins, etc) and acidity. Perceived viscosity increases with the content of the first three elements. The acidity in wine is less viscous than the other elements and the higher the  acidity the lower alcohol tends to be. Therefore, wines with a lot of acidity tend to be lower in viscosity than their lower acid wines. However, some high acid wines are also very high in sugars and they can be full-bodied.

Why does alcohol feel more viscous than water? The longer a molecule and the more easily it creates hydrogen bonds, the more viscous it will be. Water bonds readily but is the smallest of molecules. Therefore, water molecules aren't easlly “tangled” with others. Ethyl alcohol feels thicker because its molecules are larger and it also bonds easily.

Molecules of water (left) and ethyl alcohol (right). The structure of the latter causes it to snag on other molecules. That resistance in movement is viscosity.

Wine Body Descriptors

Body gets the usual assortment of semi-confusing (or entirely confusing) wine-speak descriptors. Without formal training or a secret decoder ring, quantitative descriptions such as “medium-plus” seem abstract. Qualitative comments—lithe, supple, luxurious, opulent—are poetic but only a little more helpful.

Here’s a table showing the five standard “quantitative” descriptors, their association with different types of milk—a convenient reference—as well as some common, creative descriptors. Some adjectives fall into more than one range. That’s because their use varies by varietal. Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon may be elegant at medium+ body whereas Beaujolais Nouveau may not. Some descriptors also have multiple applications. Feminine may refer to body, but also to aromatics, structure and balance. There are also a lot more flowery celebrations of full-bodied wines than those of medium body or less. That’s indicative of both the relative scarcity of high-quality, light-bodied wines and of what critics tend to prefer.


skim milk

angular, lean, delicate, feminine

Medium-   angular, lean, delicate, feminine, elegant, lithe
Medium whole milk lean, elegant, feminine, supple, lithe, oily
Medium+   elegant, supple, lithe, oily, rich, weighty, masculine
Full half-and-half rich, weighty, masculine, creamy, opulent, fat, unctuous, chewy, plump, decadent, fleshy, lush, massive, viscous, high glycerin, voluptuous, Rubenesque

bodyThe 5-point scale of wine body, from light to full, is useful but we have to remember that wine is analog not digital. In the real world there’s a smooth continuum of increasing weight from light through full. Terms such as medium+ express a range of possible viscosities, not a single specific consistency.

Not all the ranges are the same “size” either. “Medium” is narrow, in part to combat our natural tendency to play it safe by calling everything medium. “Light” is a smaller range than “Full.” That’s because there is a finite limit to how little body a wine can have but the ceiling for body is quite high.

The ranges blend from one to the next. There are no absolute dividing lines between them. Body also varies with serving temperature—the warmer the wine the less viscous it is—and the type of food, if any, with which a wine is paired. Candidates for advanced wine certification (such as Diploma, Wine & Spirits) are required to pinpoint just one body designation for any given wine. Wine reviewers often use a two-step range though, because they don’t know the conditions under which a consumer will be tasting. I often use the slightly more precise “nearly full-bodied” to indicate that a wine is on the border between medium+ and full.

One of my pet peeves is wine reviews expressing a three-step range for a wine. I see this frequently, even from celebrated wine advocates. They’ll tell you a particular red wine is “medium to full-bodied.” Virtually all high-quality red wines from the New World, and most from the Old World, fall into that range. It’s like saying a particular breed of cat has fur. Not terribly illuminating.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to Copyright 2013 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.


#1 ニューバラン 2014-04-01 18:35
Very descriptive article, I liked that a lot.
Will there be a part 2?
Revision Skin Care
#2 Revision Skin Care 2014-04-17 17:11
Piece of writing writing is also a excitement, if you be familiar with afterward you
can write if not it is complex to write.

Here is my homepage; Revision
Skin Care
weight loss
#3 weight loss 2014-04-19 05:28
'The key risk factors that we can modify that contribute to the disease getting worse
and involving other joints are overweight and obesity,' he said.
ll be eating three meals a day, and you should avoid
snacking. Examples of conditions that can contribbute to false ESR results include endometritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, percarditis, and
Local Ads
#4 Local Ads 2014-08-07 04:17
Please let me know if you're looking for a writer for your weblog.
You have some really good posts and I feel I would be a good asset.
If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd absolutely love to write
some articles for your blog in exchange for a link
back to mine. Please send me an email if interested.

หนังx ra-
#5 หนังx ra- 2014-10-11 10:34
Hello! I've been following your blog for a long time now and
finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Tx!
Just wanted to tell you keep up the fantastic job!
como investir em aç
#6 como investir em aç 2014-10-22 09:09
hello!,I love your writing so much! percentage we communicate extra about your article on AOL?
I need a specialist on this space to solve my problem.

May be that's you! Taking a look ahead to look you.

My blog - como investir em ações passo-a-passo
#7 bedding 2014-11-05 02:24
What's սp, I log on to уour blog on a regular basis.

Yօur humoristic style is awesome, keep іt սp!
#8 cialis 2014-11-06 02:39
It's an remarkable article in support of all the internet visitors; they will get advantage from
it I am sure.
#9 RANK-1ST-SEO 2014-11-11 22:21
Contrary to advertising via traditional media, internet related
activity is highly measurable. Battery Life for mobile devices -
Manufacturers have indicated that they could possibly extend the battery life for mobile devices
as much as 6 times the normal standard. This language allows the web programmers
to develop database-powere d and dynamic Web applications.
#10 2014-11-18 05:29
It's an amazing paragraph for all the internet visitors; they
will get advantage from it I am sure.
quick weight loss
#11 quick weight loss 2014-11-18 05:34
What's up it's me, I am akso visiting this web site on a regular basis,
this website is really fastidious and thee people are really shareing fastidioys thoughts.
betting 101
#12 betting 101 2014-11-27 21:46
Hi there to all, how is everything, I think every one
is getting more from this website, and your views are pleasant in favor of new visitors.
peptides supplier
#13 peptides supplier 2014-12-01 12:07
Appreciate the recommendation. Let me try it out.
order cialis online
#14 order cialis online 2014-12-10 12:12
Excellent blog post. I definitely appreciate this website.
Keep writing!

Stop by my web blog :: order cialis online
dream pharmaceutical
buy cialis in canada
#15 buy cialis in canada 2014-12-12 18:26
Ahaa, its pleasant discussion concerning this
piece of writing at this place at this weblog, I have read all that, so at this time me also
commenting here.

Stop by my website - buy cialis in canada
cialis buy from
#16 cialis buy from 2014-12-16 02:55
At this time I am ready to do my breakfast,
after having my breakfast coming yet again to read further news.

Also visit my web-site cialis buy
from canada
online pharmacy www
#17 online pharmacy www 2014-12-19 02:10
Hi just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren't loading properly.
I'm not sure why but I think its a linking
issue. I've tried it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.

my site: online
pharmacy www
#18 http://docencia. 2014-12-20 18:38
If you would like to obtain a great deal from this piece of
writing then you have to apply such methods to your won web site.
generic tadalafil
#19 generic tadalafil 2014-12-21 13:55
It's actually a nice and useful piece of information. I'm glad that you simply shared
this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this.

Thank you for sharing.

Look at my webpage; generic tadalafil
cialis canadian
#20 cialis canadian 2014-12-22 11:18
I got this site from my pal who told me concerning this web site and at
the moment this time I am browsing this web page and reading very informative content
at this time.

Look into my website :: cialis canadian pharmacy
cialis generic
#21 cialis generic 2014-12-24 13:44
We're a group of volunteers and opening a
new scheme in our community. Your web site provided us with valuable information to work on. You've
done an impressive job and our entire community will be thankful to you.

My blog post - cialis generic tadalafil
cialis generic
#22 cialis generic 2014-12-24 22:36
Hello! I simply want to give you a huge thumbs up for the great information you've got right here
on this post. I will be returning to your site for more soon.

Feel free to visit my webpage: cialis
generic canada
canada cialis
#23 canada cialis 2014-12-25 01:59
Ahaa, its good discussion regarding this paragraph at
this place at this webpage, I have read all that, so now me also commenting here.

my webpage canada cialis

Add comment

Security code