The colour of a glass of wine is mostly dependent on its body. The ‘body’ is the word used to describe the weight and feel of the wine in your mouth. A light-bodied wine feels more delicate, whereas a full-bodied glass packs a more powerful punch, with thicker tastes. There is no set definition as to where light-bodied ends and medium-begins, and so on, so there can be a lot of overlap as to where wine drinkers consider a particular wine to fall on the ‘body’ spectrum. Because of this, many wines fall into the light-medium or medium-high categories. We have created a guide to the different colours of red and white wines to help you discover the difference.
What influences the body of wine?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to the body of a bottle of wine. One of the most influential is the extract. The extract includes all the elements of wine that are non-volatile solids, such as acids and tannins.
Winemaking techniques can also contribute to the weight of the wine. For example, wines that have been matured or fermented in oak will have added body.
Alcohol content can also have an impact, with the higher alcohol quantity increasing the weight of the wine. Typically, a bottle of wine that is above 13.5% is considered full-bodied automatically.
The type of grape used to make the wine also plays a part in the colour and body of wine. Chardonnay, for example, is usually a full-bodied wine due to the grapes used, which are different to other grape types due to the climate in which they are grown. Warmer regions produce riper grapes, which contain more sugar. Sugar is one of the key factors in creating alcohol, so a riper, sweeter grape is more likely to make a wine with a higher alcohol content, and as such, a wine with a bigger body! Likewise, grapes that have thicker skins have more properties used as an extract, meaning that they will also more likely make a weightier wine.
Generally speaking, red wines are more full-bodied than white wines; however, there are still light and medium-bodied bottles of red. As a red wine ages, it loses acidity and tannin, yet gains a spicy aromatic quality from being bottle-aged, so it is chosen by many as the type to age.
White wine is typically on the lighter-medium side of the scale. White wine usually tastes better when it is young, as it does not age as well as red wines. If a white wine is aged, then it is better to start with one that is full-bodied, or sweet. It will most likely gain nutty tastes as it gets older.
Just because a wine is fuller-bodied does not mean that it is of higher quality than a lighter-bodied wine. The quality of a glass of wine is primarily down to the balance between all of the factors making up the wine.
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