Body, Structure, Grip: What Wine Descriptors Really Mean

Body, Structure, Grip: What Wine Descriptors Really Mean

Whether you’re reading off a list, getting an expert’s recommendations, or browsing the aisles of a liquor store, it’s rare to talk about wine without hearing certain words. In the world of wine, terms like body and structure get thrown around a lot, but what do they really mean?

Photos by Jeff Kubina and Evan Wood

In a feature for America’s Test Kitchen, wine writer Stephen Meuse breaks down the code of sommelier speak for the rest of us, addressing some of the most commonly-used wine terms referenced today: body, structure, grip, minerality, and sense of place (also known as terroir). First, he addresses body:

One British wine writer likes to describe body as “how much wine is in the wine” and I think this comes closer to the mark. Think about the difference between skim milk and whole milk.

So a Shiraz will generally seem to have extremely full body next to, say, a crisp Riesling. Next, he tackles the idea of structure:

Structure is the impression certain wines give of being something other than a shapeless mass of liquid sloshing about in your mouth. Is there something that seems to be holding it all together, bracing it up, keeping it from just occupying whatever space it’s given? That something is structure.

If you’re curious to know how does structure differs from grip, Meuse has an answer for that, too. Head over to the link below to find out more about that distinction, as well as what terms like minerality and “sense of place” really mean.

Wine Tasting Notes: The Wine Vocabulist Parses Somm-speak [America’s Test Kitchen Feed]

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