What is the difference between the Body, Length, Complexity and Balance of wine?
When we read a wine rating or we describe a wine to a friend, vocabulary has a strategic role. It becomes a common code and it allows us to identify some peculiar characteristics and to imagine the wine without tasting it.
But, with all the factors that coexist in a wine, it is extremely important to understand the difference between some of the most generic terms.
Today we are having a look at the words “body, length complexity and balance of a wine”. What do they indicate and how should we use them?
In short, wine body is the way the wine feels inside your mouth.
Technically, the body of a wine is determined by the whole set of substances dissolved in wine other than water and ethanol.
Let water and more or less volatile substances evaporate, we are left with the so-called “fixed residue”. This is perceived as “density” and “softness” at a tactile level (i.e.palatal). With regards to visual examination, an idea of the body of a wine can derive from its resistance/viscosity to rotation in the glass.
You can call “lean” a wine lacking in terms of body . Or “full bodied” a wine that has density and an important structure.
Note that, alcohol is a component that can contribute to the structure of the wine during the tasting, but should be evaluated separately.
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In short, wine length expresses how long the wine aromas last on your palate after you sipped (swallowed or spitted) the wine.
If, sipping a wine, its flavors show an important persistence in the mouth and if they continue to linger pleasantly on the palate even after the wine has been swallowed, then we can say that the wine has length or a long aftertaste.
A “short” wine, on the other hand, is characterized by a particularly poor aftertaste and almost no traces of the sensations deriving from its consumption.
The length of a wine is a excellent indicator of its quality.
In short: wine complexity is the way that aromas, flavours and taste of wine open up, change and evolve from the moment you made a sip to the point you spit or swallow it.
As for length, complexity can also be a positive factor in terms of quality.
Indeed, the complexity of a wine is a characteristic determined by the variety and number of the nuances that form the scent and taste of a wine.
Its evaluation requires attention and time because the substances responsible for the individual fragrances need to free themselves and be recognized. Layers of aromas and flavours can require various tastings, a good ability and experience in order to identify them.
In short: wine is balanced when all the components work together creating a harmony and providing a good taste of wine.
The balance of a wine depends on the relationships between the different chemical elements that distinguish it and the combination of all them: a good wine must be harmonious to the eye, to the nose and in the mouth.
It is difficult to state on paper from which miraculous combination the balance of a wine is created. It is actually much easier to explain the reasons why a wine is defined unbalanced.
For example, the excessive exuberance of tannins in a red wine can overwhelm the fruit; the low acidity can cover the aromas of a white wine; a wine with a too high residual sugar content can be sweet but flat; a very aromatic wine is not pleasant if it shows a weak body.
When all components are in balance, the result is a well proportionate and pleasant whole.