“I’ll take light-bodied milk with my Cap’n Crunch,” and “Pass the full-bodied milk for this mac and cheese recipe.” These aren’t things people say because, for one, they sound very strange, and secondly, fat content is the only factor when it comes to how heavy a milk tastes in your mouth. Thus, using skim, 2%, and whole is far simpler. Wine doesn’t have just one variable determining body, so we use light, medium, and full-bodied to characterize the overall richness of flavor.

The most important component dictating the body of wine is alcohol, with higher ABVs leading to fuller-bodied wines. While you’re never going to find a light-bodied wine with 15% alcohol, you can’t define thresholds based solely on ABV due to the range of other factors involved. For example, acidity makes wine feel lighter, while tannin, oak-aging, and sugar all make wine seem more full-bodied.

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