There’s a lot of lingo in the wonderful world of wine, most of it used to describe how a specific wine looks or smells or tastes.
There also is language used to describe how a wine feels in the mouth. The most common terms are full-bodied, medium-bodied and light-bodied.
What, exactly, do these terms mean? Well, they are used to describe the “weight” of the wine. Does it seem to coat the mouth and stick around for a while, even after being swallowed, or does it refresh the palate and then seem to dissipate?
Here’s how to remember the differences among these three styles:
* A full-bodied wine is big and powerful.
* A light-bodied wine is more lean and delicate.
* A medium-bodied wine falls somewhere in between.
There are no hard and fast rules about how to enjoy each style, but here are a few guidelines I tend to follow…
Full-bodied wines (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Malbec, et al) are wonderful sipping wines — perfect for parties, reading or watching TV. They’re almost as much fun to smell as they are to drink because the aromas tend to be intense and varied.
Medium-bodied wines (Merlot, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, et al) are the best food wines, because their texture and flavors tend to complement, rather than overpower, the texture and flavors of the food. Some people use the term “food wine” in a derisive manner. I completely disagree. I believe that wine and food, when paired correctly, make for the most memorable culinary experiences.
Light-bodied wines (Sauvignon Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Grigio) pair nicely with lighter fare (chicken, fish, etc.) and also are ideal for quaffing on a hot summer day. Some people quench their thirst with beer; I much prefer a nice chilled glass of white wine.
Which style — full-bodied, medium-bodied or light-bodied — is best? For me, it depends on the occasion. Like so much of wine appreciation, it’s a matter of personal preference.