Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
What do you mean when you say that a wine is full-bodied or medium-bodied?
—Rima, Kolkata, India
“Body” and “weight” are used somewhat interchangeably in wine-speak, referring to how heavy or viscous a wine feels in your mouth. It comes from a combination of alcohol, extract, tannins, glycerol, acidity and residual sugar (if any is left over after fermentation).
When talking about body, a simple example is to compare skim milk (light-bodied), whole milk (medium-bodied) and cream (full-bodied). Those are good baselines, but there are many more shades of body—like how adding milk or cream to your coffee or tea will make it a touch fuller. Or how coconut milk is heavier than coconut water, or pale ale is lighter-bodied than stout.