It’s easy to taste the difference between whole milk and skim milk because of the fat level. The wine body fullness of flavour isn’t as easy to pinpoint because it involves many factors.

Fortunately, there are a few clues you can look for on the wine bottle:

Alcohol Level: Wines above 14% alcohol tend to taste more full-bodied.

Grape Variety: Certain grape varieties produce more full-bodied wines (see below).

Oak Aging: Much like Bourbon, wines aged in fresh oak barrels often taste more full-bodied. Wine producers often mention oak ageing on the back label.

Climate Type: As a general rule, grapes grown in warmer climates tend to produce richer, more full-bodied wines (this depends on the producer!).

Residual Sugar: Unfermented grape sugars leftover in wine increases the body without increasing the sweetness. Unfortunately, this is rarely mentioned on a wine label.

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How to define Wine Body?

Grape Variety vs. Wine Body

Some grape varieties are known to produce wines that fit neatly into a wine body type. Here are a few examples to explore.


Light red wines generally have a lower alcohol content of less than 12.5 per cent. They also have fewer tannins than medium- or full-bodied wines. Pinot Noir, Grenache, and Barbera are a few examples.

Medium Bodied

Medium-bodied red wines tend to have an alcohol content of between 12.5 and 13.5 per cent and more tannins than a light-bodied red wine but less than a full-bodied red wine. Examples include Merlot, Shiraz, Tempranillo, and Nebbiolo.


Any red wine with more than 13.5 per cent alcohol is considered a full-bodied wine. Full-bodied wines have more complex flavours and have a richer mouthfeel. Examples include Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Syrah.

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