You’ve heard the term before “We’re featuring full bodied red wines, sir, would you like to choose one from our selection?” You look at the waiter with a look of confusion, wanting to choose the right wine to impress your potential client, but really aren’t sure what the waiter means. Is that a Pinot Noir? What is it exactly?
A full-bodied red wine is best known for how it coats the inside of the mouth. That thick feeling you get when you take a sip is best embodied in a full-bodied red wine. The wine itself will be so thick, you can’t see through it. The taste is also bolder due to the flavor that comes from the skin of the grapes.
But, that’s not all! There’s so much more that goes into making your favorite full-bodied wine-so much so that winemakers are more like mad scientists than chefs. For example, the high skin-to –berry ratio is only a portion of what makes this wine distinct. The pip ( or ‘seed’) is loaded with tannin which is commonly known as the structure of the wine. The tannins (or the higher levels of tannins) are what give you that cotton mouth feeling. The tannin from the pips will be felt in the front of your mouth, whereas the tannins from oak aging are felt farther back on your palate.
Oak aging will not only add tannins as well as pips, they also add layers of aroma. New oak will often leave a toasted flavor (think smoky) and older oak adds caramel and vanillin. The amount of time the wine sits in the barrel will also add to the body of the wine. The results of sitting in an oak barrel for 12 or more months will give you a smoother, bolder wine, and increased alcohol levels which add to that richer feel.
Did you know you can actually see the alcohol in wine? Give it a swirl; a wine with higher levels of alcohol will have more viscous wine tears. Sugar also adds to the viscosity of wine. Many winemaker stop the fermentation a little early by cooling down yeast (putting them to ‘sleep’) and allowing the sugar to remain in the wine.
Which are your favorites? Do you like the full tasting, mouth coating sensation of a full-bodied red wine? Or do you prefer a hint of the bold with a bursting berry aroma?