You’ll often hear people say or use the phrase, “full-bodied” to describe wine. While some people think that full-bodied is in reference to red wines, you can actually use the phrase to describe both red and white wines. It’s one of three types of body descriptors where light and medium-bodied are the other options. But, what does “full-bodied” actually mean?

Full-bodied is a wine tasting term that references the heaviness of a wine that feels thick and viscous in the mouth. The tasting term refers to how the wine feels in your mouth rather than taste like other terms.

Several factors play into whether a wine has a fuller body. Alcohol content creates viscosity, adding to the fullness of the body. Tannins provide structure to the wine thus creating a thicker sensation in the mouth. Tannins come from the skin and seeds of a thicker-skinned grape variety. Malolactic fermentation increases the texture, adding a creamy sensation. If the wine is aged in oak, this will also add tannin and aromatic compounds known as vanillin that also gives a buttery texture and flavor. Lastly, sugar levels or residual sugar can also increase the viscosity of the wine.

So, if you’ve determined you’re a full-bodied wine kind of person here are a few pairing suggestions. Full-bodied reds pair best with strong-flavored foods like BBQ, Mexican, smoked meats, and steak. Full-bodied white wines pair amazingly with crab, lobster, creamy pasta sauces, chicken, white sauce pizza, and soft cheeses.