Wine-Tasting Exercises: Body
What Defines Body In Wine?
“Body is the sense of weight or richness or heaviness, and even the feeling of viscosity that a wine leaves in your mouth,” says Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, author of Great Wine Made Simple. Generally, the more alcohol in a wine, the more body it will have, which means that wines from warmer climates (which produce grapes with more sugar to be converted into alcohol) tend to have more heft. Sugar, oak and the overall concentration of flavors in a wine can also add body.
How Does Body Affect Pairing?
“A key principle for pairing is to match body with body, so that the wine’s not too heavy or light for the dish, and vice versa,” says Robinson.
“Wines have different weights and richnesses, mostly due to alcohol. Milk can vary in the same way, but of course that’s due to fat,” says Robinson.
Wine-Tasting Workout: Body
1/4 cup each of skim milk, 2% milk, whole milk and heavy cream
Taste the milk in ascending order of richness, beginning with skim and ending with heavy cream, considering the texture of each and the sensation in your mouth. The skim milk should dissipate very quickly; the cream will coat your tongue.
Wines to Try From Lightest to Most Full-Bodied
1. Northern Italian Pinot Grigio: 2011 Tiefenbrunner
2. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: 2011 Kim Crawford Marlborough
3. White Burgundy: 2010 Domaine Faiveley Bourgogne Blanc
4. Barrel-fermented Chardonnay: 2010 Rodney Strong Sonoma County
1. Valpolicella: 2011 Tedeschi Lucchine
2. California Pinot Noir: 2010 Dutton Goldfield Azaya Ranch Vineyard
3. Chianti Classico: 2009 La Maialina
4. Zinfandel: 2010 Ridge East Bench
- Understanding Wine: Scent & Sensibility
- A Lesson in Pairing Scents
- 3 Amazing Wine-Tasting Parties
- Learning to Sniff Out Corked Wine
- A Sensualist’s Guide to Wine Pairings
- A Wine Tasting Glossary
- A Sparkling Wine and Cheese Tasting Party
- How to Host a Wine Tasting
Wine-Tasting Exercises: Tannins
What are Tannins?
Tannins are compounds in grape skins, seeds and stems that contribute to wine’s structure, complexity, texture and ageability—especially red wine. Tannins create a drying and slightly bitter sensation in the mouth, usually toward the back of the tongue. Tannic wines pair especially well with rich foods and substantial meat dishes because they cut through fat; fat also softens the perception of tannin, making the wines more approachable.
Wine-Tasting Workout: Tannins
3 black tea bags
Pour 8 ounces of hot water into each of the mugs. Place one tea bag in each of the mugs and start a timer. After 2 minutes, remove the bag from the first mug; after 4 minutes, remove the bag from the second mug; and after 8 minutes, remove the final tea bag. Let the tea cool.
Taste the teas in increasing steep-time order, swishing the liquid around in your mouth before swallowing. Notice how the teas are perceptibly more astringent as the steeping time increases.
Wines to Try From Least to Most Tannic
1. Beaujolais: 2010 Potel Aviron Côte de Brouilly
2. California Merlot: 2009 Simi Sonoma County Merlot
3. Bordeaux: 2010 Château Bellevue Bordeaux Supérieur