Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Elements in Wine: Body and Texture

If you were a wine, what would you be? I normally pose this question to my students, when talking about body in wines, and I usually do a comparison between Sarah Jessica Parker (skinny and bony) or Jennifer Lopez (voluptuous with curves) to help them differentiate what they are experiencing on their palates when tasting different wines.

See, when talking about body in wines, most of the wine critics, use different descriptors like angular, linear, for wines that have high acidity or structured for wines that have high tannins and then there’s the opposite: rounder, beefier, for wines that are all about ripe fruit and alcohol and velvety or smooth when dealing with wines with very soft tannins. The typical example of an angular wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon, while Malbec is a great example of a round wine. Of course, most wine educators prefer to compare wine with dairy products, and then they talk about wines that feel like light skim milk (light bodied), wines that feel like regular milk (medium bodied) and wines that feel like heavy cream (full bodied). In the case of Cabernet Sauvignon, angular wines will be sharp, with marked corners, because of its acidity and/or tannins, while round wines like our Malbec will be plush, fleshy, spreading their weight fully on your palate.

Keeping in mind that tasting is very subjective, I tend to like light bodied wines, with some acidity, which I think give wines their elegance and freshness. I like Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc for whites, Pinot Noir and Barbera for reds. I also like medium bodied wines with some spice, wines that have smokey flavors, white or black pepper, vanilla, cloves, chocolate, and leather or cedar notes like a good Rioja Reserva, Argentinean Malbec or Chilean Carménère. As a rule, I tend to avoid wines that are too tannic, too alcoholic or too overripe (this happens when the fruit profile tends more towards prunes and raisins, instead of fresh black fruits).
When talking about wine bodies, we must also talk about textures in wines, and of course the finish. When you taste these wines, what is their mouthfeel? are they silky, like a Pinot Noir? or coarse like some young Barolos?  Or perhaps, savory and meaty like Chilean Carménère?, are they simple/ one dimensional or complex: showing different dimensions, and layers of flavors and nuances that open up with every sip?  After you taste them, do they stay on your palate for a while or disappear quickly? and how long is the finish? Usually the longer the finish, the better the wine. 

To give you an idea of what you can expect in wines according to body, here are a few tips:

Light bodied wines usually come from these grapes/regions: Riesling, Grüner  Veltliner, Pinot Grigio, Muscadet, Gamay (Beaujolais), Pinot Noir (Burgundy/ Oregon), Sangiovese (Basic Chianti)  Barbera, Dolcetto, etc. If you like this style, stick to wines that come from cool to moderate climates. I know you need to know some geography!

Medium bodied wines come from these other grapes/regions: Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand, Chile, Loire), Albariño (Spain), Verdejo (Spain), Gewurztraminer (Alsace, Germany), Chenin Blanc, (Loire Valley, South Africa) Tempranillo (Rioja Crianza and Reserva), inexpensive Merlot and Cabernet, most Rosé, etc. If you like this style, stick to wines that come from moderate and/or maritime climates.

And Full bodied wines come from these grapes/regions:  Viognier, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc or red, Chardonnay from California or Australia, Cabernet Sauvignon from California or high end Bordeaux, Zinfandel, Syrah, Nebbiolo (Barolo and Barbaresco), Tannat (Uruguay), Douro, Malbec etc. If you like this style, stick to wines that come from warm to hot climates.

Following what I just said above, I dare you to buy a bottle of each tonight! and taste them together in a flight, so that you can experience the different bodies and textures, this will surely help you identify the best style of your choice and to clearly see the difference.

My recommendations for this week are three excellent full bodied reds that are super round and smooth, they come from Luke Winery, located at Wahluke Slope AVA, Columbia Valley, WA. 
Luke Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 showcases blackberry and cassis notes, with a touch of mint and smoky flavors, beautiful and supple tannins make this less angular than your typical Cab. Delish! $25
Luke Merlot 2018 is my favorite of all three, it features plum and blackberry fruits with a touch of vanilla and cedar notes from oak. Merlot is the typical example of a plush wine for me, and always a crowd pleaser, even for those that don’t usually drink red. $25
And finally Luke Red Blend 2018 is an explosive combination of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah and 20% Merlot, showing blueberry and cherry with chocolate and spicy black pepper notes. Opulent! $20. All three are distributed nationwide by Folio wines.

Until the next one, Cheers! Silvina.
#winebody #thoughtsoflawina #lightbodiedwines #mediumbodiedwines #fullbodiedwines #winetexture.

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