What Does Full Bodied Mean? Discover The Different Classifications Of Wine Body

When you are walking around a supermarket or wine shop, you will be presented with a vast array of wines. Each bottle of wine tastes different from the other.

By looking at the labels of each bottle you may notice if the wine is light, medium, or full-bodied.

What Does Full Bodied Mean? Discover The Different Classifications Of Wine Body

The difference between these three types of wine is the type of grape used, the method in which the wine was created, and the amount of alcohol that is present.

Knowing the characteristics of the many wines on the shelves will help you choose a new favorite.

In this article, we will explore what full-bodied wine means, and what classifies a wine as full-bodied. 

Wine Body: What Is It?

The wine’s body indicates how heavy and how full it feels on the palate. It is merely comparable to distinguishing between whole and skimmed milk. 

It is obvious that one kind of milk differs from the other, and this difference is likely caused by the milk’s fat level. This is very comparable to wines. You can distinguish between them by looking at the elements that give a wine its structure.

Therefore, the key approach for analyzing and learning more about various types of wine is through the wine body. 

What Affects The Wine’s Body?

As mentioned above, several things can affect the body of your bottle of wine. The main factors that alter your wine’s body include the grape variety used and the degree of alcohol that the wine contains. 

Each element has a significant impact on the wine structure. Read more about these factors below. 

Type Of Grape Used

The place where the grapes were grown greatly influences the grape variety’s ability to produce wine with a certain body. 

Warm weather promotes quicker ripening and higher sugar content in the grapes, giving them larger bodies. In contrast, grape types grown in cool areas have higher levels of acidity, less tannin, and a lighter body.

Alcohol Content

The aroma, flavor, and texture of the wine are all influenced by alcohol concentration. The typical guideline for classifying wine bodies according to their alcohol content is as follows:

Wines with a light body only contain less than 12.5% alcohol. When we swallow it, the texture is cooling. While wines with a medium body typically contain 12.5% to 13.5% alcohol.

Finally, any wine that contains 13.5% alcohol by volume is considered to be full-bodied.

Wine Texture

When we talk about wine texture, we are speaking about the consistency or thickness of a liquid. This is also known as viscosity.

Full-bodied wines possess a thicker consistency than light-bodied wines, which are less viscous. Therefore, viscosity varies with alcohol content. Wines with a higher alcohol concentration are hence thicker. 

Understanding The Different Classifications Of Wine Body

By figuring out the wine’s body categorization, you can learn how it tastes. Even while it’s not the only factor, this one is the most obvious when it comes to the flavor of certain wines. 

By learning the different classifications, you may find that you enjoy a certain wine body more than others. 

What Does Full Bodied Mean? Discover The Different Classifications Of Wine Body

Light Bodied Wine

Due to their light viscosity, which is comparable to water, light-bodied wines are thin and delicate. Additionally, light-bodied wines contain higher levels of acidity and lower levels of tannin.

Thus, making it unlikely that they would have mouth-drying effects.

The most popular grape variety for light-bodied wines is pinot noir. It has the smoothest texture on the tongue and is the lightest.

Medium Bodied Wine

Wines with a medium body fall in the middle of both light and full-bodied wines. It is less watery and doesn’t possess the same level of viscosity as light-bodied wine.

These wines are typically juicier and contain more acidity than a full-bodied wine. Yet, they also lack the creaminess that a full-bodied wine has.

The most popular grape varieties for medium-bodied wines are Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Since they pair nicely with highly acidic foods, wine connoisseurs refer to medium-bodied wines as food wines or entry-level wines.

Full Bodied Wine

Full-bodied wines have the highest residual levels of tannin, alcohol, and sugar. They also contain the lowest amounts of acidity among the various wine body types.

It has a creamy flavor and is extremely viscous due to the wine structure. It is equivalent to drinking whole milk.

The most popular full-bodied red wine is Cabernet Sauvignon. Whereas the most popular full-bodied white wine is Chardonnay.

What Makes Full-Bodied Wine Different?

Full-bodied wines contain a higher alcohol concentration. The particular elements that go into its winemaking process set it apart from other wine bodies.

Oak aging is a method used to enhance the scent and lessen the bitterness of full-bodied wines. Thus, the wine body can be changed by winemakers. Usually, full-bodied wine has three different fermentation processes.

This produces a larger alcoholic concentration. 

Additionally, based on how they appear, you can distinguish between full-bodied red and white wines and light-bodied ones.

Full-bodied red wines possess a deeper hue of crimson red or purple than full-bodied white wines, which have a golden-yellow hue.

Also, you can look at the wine legs. Wine should be swirled in the glass. It moves down as it develops legs on the glass. Light-bodied wines dissipate rapidly, whereas full-bodied wines maintain thick legs and sink slowly.


There are three different types of wine body classifications. Full-body wine is a much thicker wine in terms of consistency and contains a higher alcohol percentage.

In comparison to light-bodied wine which is the complete opposite, since it is quite thin. Whereas medium-bodied falls right in the middle of the two. 

A full-bodied wine has a slightly longer processing time, as this is what helps to create its recognizable flavor and texture. You can easily tell what type of wine you are purchasing by looking at the wine’s label (Also check out How To Remove Wine Labels From Bottles).

There it will tell you the bottle of wine’s alcohol content. 

We hope this article has been helpful, and that you know now what full-bodied means, and the different wine body classifications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Full-Bodied Wine Strong?

Full-bodied wine generally has a higher alcohol content than other types of wine. The red full-bodied wine is overall the strongest due to the higher alcohol and tannin levels.

Also, the minimal acidity creates a heavier and stronger flavor. 

Is Malbec A Light Or Heavy Wine?

Malbec is undoubtedly regarded as a heavier red. Body big and loaded with juicy fruit. It’s a wine that pairs nicely with hearty foods such as steak, hamburgers, or at a barbecue.

How Can You Tell A Wine Is Full-Bodied?

When browsing wines in a store, you may wonder how to tell if a wine is full-bodied. Look on the labels for wines that have an alcohol content of 13.5% or more, as this is considered a full-bodied wine.

If the label says 12.5% to 13.4% then these are medium-bodied wines.

Sarah Perez
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