At my recent visit to Total Wine an More’s ‘Wine 101’ class I learned a very easy way to determine what the body of a wine is. Up until taking that class determining the ‘body’ of a wine was a distant concept to me. I knew that they were talking about the ‘heaviness’ of the wine but still couldn’t figure out how everybody was coming to their conclusions so easily and with conviction.
Well I now know that it is really easy to make this determination using something that most people have a daily experience with – drinking milk! Now I haven’t had a glass a milk in over 20 years but I am no stranger to the differences in consistency when it comes to dairy products. It was something that I wholeheartedly participated in prior to that 20 years.
Most people will agree that when drinking milk there is a distinct difference in consistency when it comes to skim milk, 2% milk, and whole milk. Skim milk, to most, has the weight and consistency of drinking a glass of water. 2% milk is slightly heavier/thicker and whole milk is the heaviest/thickest in the mouth. Knowing this simple fact is the key to determining the ‘body’ of the wine you’re drinking.
‘Light Bodied Wines’ are those that when you take a sip and move it around your mouth has the consistency and thickness of water or skim milk. It’s very ‘light’ on the tongue.
‘Medium bodied Wines’ are those that when you take a sip and move it around your mouth has a slightly heavier weight and thickness. They are the equivalent of drinking 2% milk.
‘Heavy bodied Wines’ are those that are thick and…well…heavy on the tongue. They are reminiscent of drinking whole milk or even heavy cream. They loom large in your mouth as far as thickness is concerned.
Now that I’ve learned this little comparison trick it’s been easy for me to identify the body of every wine I’ve been drinking with little or no need for second thought. It’s an immediate ‘knowing’ now which frees me up to figure out more about the complexities of the wine like the bouquet and aromas that want to be identified.
I also want to add that a wine can fall between those categories of ‘light, medium, and heavy bodied’ too. Like anything else there’s a scale where something can be mostly light bodied but bordering on medium and thus you might say that that particular wine is a light to medium bodied wine or a medium to heavy bodied wine.
Nothing is absolute. It doesn’t have to fall neatly into just one category. Just like a person can be primarily an introvert but with some extrovert qualities a wine can absolutely do the same thing. It’s a living and breathing thing just like you and I are and even though a particular wine may be described as a medium bodied wine it can still have some slight variations too.
So now armed with this new knowledge (I am assuming it’s new to you too…if not then forgive my assumptions here) I challenge you to get out there and start to get to know the body of your wines. Feel them, touch them, get to know them! 🙂
Most people already know that white wines are served chilled but most, like me, don’t know what that temperature actually is supposed to be. White wines should be served between 48-53 degrees F. This is usually the standard temperature that you’ll find in your refrigerator.
It’s also good to note that even though white wines are supposed to be served cold make sure you don’t serve them too cold. That can affect the flavors of the wine too.
Another good tip for white wines is to take them out of the refrigerator 10 to 15 minutes before you’re going to drink them.
If you’re serving a champagne, sparkling wine, or Prosecco it should be served between 40 to 45 degrees F. In order to get it to this temperature you may have to place it in an ice bucket filled with ice or put it in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes before serving to get it to that temperature. Of course, you should have had it in the refrigerator before that but the standard temperature in your fridge is not going to be cold enough to get your bubbly to the right temperature thus the use of the ice bucket or freezer stated above.
You see, all of the resources that I looked up in order to see what I should serve along side of my cheese souffle said the same thing – serve with a nice green salad, crusty bread, and a nice champagne or sparkling wine.
With that knowledge I headed off to my local Total Wine and More store to procure that nice bottle of bubbly for my celebration. I told the nice man there what I was making and how it suggested either a nice bottle of champagne or a sparkling champagne to accompany it. He suggested a nice sparkling wine from France.
As he retrieved the bottle for me I had to ask the silly question that was floating around in my head – What’s the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine? I found the answer was simple and along the lines of what I expected.
In France their laws are very strict when it comes to wine making. No one can call their sparkling wine Champagne UNLESS it actually comes from Champagne, France. If you’re even so much as a millimeter outside of Champagne, France you’ve created a sparkling wine! If you want to make a Champagne well then you better move your vines!
As Americans we are pretty much used to calling everything with bubbles Champagne because our laws couldn’t really care less where it’s made and we are just trained to call bubbly Champagne. However, if it doesn’t come from Champagne, France it technically isn’t Champagne….but it is really the same thing.
Italy has a similar law when it comes to their bubbly called Prosecco although technically to our American minds we’d probably call it Champagne too.
While researching this whole thing I found that apparently Prosecco is one of the most consumed bubbly in Italy. They even have a lower end version that they sell to the masses that’s in pop top soda-like cans that is consumed regularly although the quality isn’t going to be like you find in the traditional bubbly-type bottles.
So that’s our little lesson for this week. I hope my learnings have sparked an interest in you to try some bubbly really soon be it Champagne, Sparkling Wine, or Prosecco. I’ve decided that we waste so many opportunities to enjoy a great bubbly because our society says it has to be a special occasion. I think we should all find reasons to celebrate and enjoy the finer things in life. That’s what it’s all about really, isn’t it?
I’ll share my review of the Sparkling Wine that was recommended to me by that nice man at the Total Wine store on Sunday. It just might be a great place for you to start too. 🙂