Have you ever thought about how wine feels in your mouth? Have you struggled to come up with words to describe that feeling?
The most common terms are similar to those used to describe coffee: full-bodied, medium-bodied and light-bodied.
What, exactly, do these terms mean?
They are used to describe the “weight” of the wine. Ask yourself: Does the wine 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. (If you’re a Starbucks fan, think: the dark roast of the day.)
* A light-bodied wine is more lean and delicate. (The Starbucks equivalent: Blonde roast.)
* A medium-bodied wine falls somewhere in between. (The Starbucks equivalent: Pike Place.)
There are no hard and fast rules about how to enjoy each style, but here are a few guidelines that may be helpful:
* Full-bodied wines (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Malbec) are wonderful sipping wines — perfect for parties, reading or watching TV. They can be almost as much fun to smell as they are to drink because the aromas tend to be intense and varied.
* Medium-bodied wines (such as Merlot, Sangiovese and Chardonnay) are the best food wines because their texture and flavors tend to complement, rather than overpower, the texture and flavors of the food.
(Note: Some people use the term “food wine” in a derisive manner. Don’t allow yourself to fall into that trap. Wine and food, when paired correctly, make for the most memorable culinary experiences.)
* Light-bodied wines (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Gruner Veltliner) pair nicely with lighter fare (chicken, fish, etc.). They’re also ideal for quaffing on a hot summer day. Some people quench their thirst with beer; the same can be accomplished with a nice chilled glass of white wine.
So, which style — full-bodied, medium-bodied or light-bodied — is best?
It depends on the occasion. Like so much of wine appreciation, it’s a matter of personal preference.
Just like your morning cup of joe.