When pairing a wine with your dinner, you should consider the body of the wine in regard to the food on your plate. The term ‘body’ when it refers to wine is defined as the general heaviness wine leaves in one’s mouth after tasting it. In addition, you might also consider how rich the vintage feels when it comes to the body of wine.
The Feel of a Full-Bodied Wine
A good way to consider the difference between light and full-bodied wines is to compare skim and whole milk. Skim milk obviously has less fat and when you drink it, it feels almost like a mouthful of water. In comparison, full milk is thicker and feels heavier in your mouth. The same can be said between light and full-bodied wines.
What Makes Wine Full-Bodied Versus Light?
The first consideration between what makes a light-bodied versus full-bodied wine is the alcohol content within the bottle. Whether it’s white or red, each wine is produced with a certain percentage of alcohol and the greater the alcohol content in a vintage, the more body it will have. Other factors to consider are the amount of sugar in the vintage as well as the addition of other flavors. These additional factors will directly impact the body as well.
Which Varietals Are Full-Bodied?
A varietal is a wine created using primarily one type of grape and will carry the name of the grapes as its name. Some of the more popular full-bodied varietals are as follows:
• Cabernet Sauvignon
This is the most popular red wine and is virtually impermeable. It
contains oaken flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with steak, duck,
lamb and bittersweet chocolate.
This wine is dark blue in color and tastes deep and fruity. Merlot pairs
well with prime rib, filet mignon, duck and pork.
• Pinot Noir
This vintage is pale red in coloration and contains subtle flavors of
fruit as well as earthiness. It is a very versatile wine and therefore
Pinot Noir pairs well with many different proteins as well as mushrooms.
Other full-bodied varietals are Syrah (or Shiraz), Malbec, Zinfandel and Tempranillo.
Which Varietals are Light-Bodied?
The most popular light bodied varietals consist of:
Chardonnay is a very popular white wine and its fruity flavors can range
from notes of apples to pineapples and mangoes. This wine pairs well with
smoked salmon as well as various protein dishes served with a cream sauce
as well as mango, pineapple and honey dew.
Riesling can range in flavor from fruity to flowery. It is a very
versatile wine and due to the numerous varieties of Riesling produced, it
can be paired with almost any dish, including dessert.
• Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc can also range in flavor from grassy or herbal to fruity.
This wine pairs well with raw or lightly cooked shellfish, chicken or lamb.
When pairing a wine with a dish, you must pay attention to match the body to the type of food you are serving. Rich, heavy meals tend to gravitate more towards full-bodied wines. Simpler fare will taste delicious with a lighter-bodied wine.
Comprehending the difference between light-bodied and full-bodied wines will ensure you can enjoy your vintages to their fullest potential. Now that you understand the terminology as well as the appropriate way to pair bodies of wines, you should be able to easily pick out the right vintage for every meal.