Tue | Aug 14, 2018

Wine body … not curves

Published:Thursday | February 26, 2015 | 12:00 AM

A wine body, contrary to your first thought, is not a physical disposition of a six-pack and toned arms, but speaks to the way wine feels inside your mouth.

Wine body can be divided into three categories - light, medium, and full body. But what does that mean exactly? Think of the difference between one per cent milk, full milk and cream and you begin to have an idea what I am referring to.

There are a number of factors that affect the weight and feel of wine in your mouth, but possibly the most striking is the level of alcohol. That is what gives wine its viscosity and is responsible for the feeling you typically enjoy. In trying to find a definition for viscosity that may better help in appreciating the concept, I found a scenario posed by Princeton University. Imagine a styrofoam cup with a hole in the bottom. If I pour honey into the cup, you will find that it drains very slowly. That is because honey's viscosity is large compared to other liquids' viscosities. If I fill the same cup with water, for example, the cup will drain much more quickly.

The more alcohol a wine has, the more viscous it becomes. Wines with alcohol below 12.5 per cent are said to be light-bodied. They tend to be the crisp, refreshing white wines persons enjoy. Great examples of this are Rieslings and Prosseco. It is not restricted to whites; reds can be light-bodied too, such as a Pinot Noir. These wines tend to be more delicate.

Wines with alcohol between 12.5 per cent and 13.5 per cent are considered more medium-bodied wines. Great examples are Pinot Grigios and Sauvignon Blanc.

Wines with alcohol above 13.5 per cent are generally classified more full-bodied, which are found across red varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz, my favourite, Malbecs, and one cannot exclude the presence of a white varietal, Chardonnay. These full-bodied wines are bold, striking wines that impact your taste buds instantly.

Here are a few options to consider trying this week. A great light-bodied option which is always enjoyable is the Torres Vina Esmeralda, which is 11 per cent alcohol. It is a delicious blend of 85 per cent Moscatel and 15 per cent Gewurztraminer (don't ever ask me to pronounce it), which gives a great balance of honey and grapefruit and fragrance, which only adds to the enjoyment. I had mentioned this one before with my seafood pizza, but it's great just by itself. Another great option is the Fiordaliso Pinot Grigio, which is a great value for money with 12 per cent alcohol. It's always crisp and refreshing, leaving a regal feeling with each sip.

For a few full-bodied options, give thought to Ck Mondavi Merlot, which is 13.6 per cent alcohol - always beautiful. Flavours of cherry and plum with a soft fruit finish make this a great easy-to-drink wine. Another playful contender to give a try is MÈnage ‡ Trois, which is a blend from California. The winemaker says it best, which is what grabs me every time, "MÈnage ‡ Trois - what happens when you put three attractive, single, young grapes from California in one exquisite bottle to create our red wine blend." At 13.8 per cent alcohol, this is certainly a full-bodied wine. Although great with grilled meat, I quite enjoy it just by itself.

Remember, an easy guide in trying to determine what you want in terms of body is just to look at the label and see the level of alcohol. Have fun with it, and feel to share any of your favourites.


• I am not an expert, merely a wine enthusiast sharing my thoughts and experiences. Feel free to share your own experiences at wineenthusiastja@