I read a wonderful article in Food and Wine Magazine last Autumn about different tasting procedures you can go through to help yourself understand the different properties of wine tasting. I found the exercises to be extremely insightful and it was easier for me to remember these properties after physically testing them myself. I wanted to save these exercises and the wines used and recommended to be able to go through them with friends in the future. I think this would make a fun little educational wine gathering!
Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson defines body as “the sense of weight or richness or heaviness, or even the feeling of viscosity that a wine leaves in your mouth.”
I have often used the analogy of comparing the body of wine to the difference in thickness with milk. Skim milk is thinner and doesn’t have the richness of 2% milk, and that thickness/richness of milk grows as it reaches whole milk. A light bodied wine would be comparable to the skim milk while the fuller bodied wines are comparable to whole milk.
Typically, if a wine has a higher alcohol content it will have more body. Often times wines from warmer climates, which produce grapes with more sugar (that eventually turns into alcohol), tend to have more body. Other factors in determining the body of a wine include sugar, oak and the concentration.
One of the most common wine and food pairing tips is to pair white meat with white wine and red meat with red wine. This concept refers to one of the most commonly used approaches when pairing food and wine: choosing wine based on its body.
Equipment: 4 glasses, 1/4 cup each of skim milk, 2% milk, whole milk and heavy cream
Begin with the skim milk and taste in the order of richness until the heavy cream. Pay attention to the texture of each variation on your tongue and the sensation in your mouth. The skim milk should dissipate quickly, which the cream will coat your tongue.
The following wines will help illustrate the concept of body. A type of wine is listed, followed by a specific vintage and brand that would work well. Each are listed in order from least to most full-bodied.
* Northern Italian Pinot Grigio (2011 Tiefenbrunner)
* New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (2011 Kim Crawford Marlborough)
* White Burgundy (2010 Domaine Faiveley Bourgogne Blanc)
* Barrel-fermented Chardonnay (2010 Rodney Strong Sonoma County)
* Valpolicella (2011 Tedeschi Lucchine)
* California Pinot Noir (2010 Dutton Goldfield Azaya Ranch Vineyard)
* Chianti Classico (2009 La Maialina)
* Zinfandel (2010 Ridge East Bench)
The wines in parenthesis were not necessarily the wines I found and used when first doing this experiment. They are wines suggested in Food and Wine Magazine. I used the ones I could find locally and if I could not find the specific brand they recommended or didn’t have the budget for the one they recommended, I used one that fit their category. I did these exercises before starting this blog so I did not record each brand and vintage I used.