Last time we took a quick look at one of the characteristics of wine, its body. A wine's body is simply based on how it feels in your mouth. And a wine's body is affected by its alcohol level, tannin, acidity and sweetness. And each plays a role. So let's explore light bodied wines a bit more.
Light bodied wines are typically considered to be delicate with subtle flavors. Of the four previously mentioned characteristics of a wine, light bodied wines are lower in alcohol (generally below 12.5%), lower in tannin and sweetness, while being higher in acidity.
For this post, the light bodied wines being discussed are dry white wines. There are red wines that are considered light bodied (e.g., Gamay and Pinot Noir) but that's relative to other reds, and will be the subject of a future posting.
Light white wines can have herbal, citrus, floral and aromatic tendencies. The most commonly known light bodied white wine is Sauvignon Blanc (which is labeled as Sancerre, and Pouilly Fumè in France for the regions where it is grown). This is a wonderfully fresh, zippy and refreshing wine. When it is produced in cooler regions (e.g., New Zealand), it can take on aromas of herbs and vegetables such as tarragon, celery, freshly mowed grass and green peppers. In warmer regions (e.g., California), Sauvignon Blanc transitions to the tropical and citrus fruit flavors such as green melon, grapefruit and lime. This is a wine that is widely popular and goes great with so many foods such as shellfish and soft cheeses.
Other light bodied whites that tend toward citrus and crisp fruit flavors include Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris), French Chablis, Albariño, Grenache Blanc, Vinho Verde. Unoaked Chardonnays also tend to be crisp and fresh with green apple and citrus flavors.
Light bodied white wines such as Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Muscat Blanc tend to be very aeromatic with highly perfumed floral aromas of sweet fruit. Pinot Blanc, Verdicchio and Vermentino also typically have floral tendencies.
All of these light bodied white wines are able to retain their fruity characteristics by being fermented in stainless steel or concrete tanks versus oak barrels that can add additional flavors and aromas to a wine.
Light bodied white wines are a great place to start if you are just getting into tasting and learned about wines. They are generally served cold and easy on the palette. But don't get me wrong. Many of the wines in this category are highly praised, enjoyed by collectors and connoisseur alike and can demand high prices throughout the world. But, they are also some of the most approachable wines. So try one of these. I think you'll like them. Cheers!