What Does ‘Juicy’ Mean in Wine?
Contributed by Demi Elder
|ILLUSTRATION BY ALYSSA NASSNER|
In most circumstances, juice is associated with fruity sweetness. The same isn’t true in wine.
“Juicy is more of a note that describes the presence of fruit flavors in the wine,” says Aamira Garba, CEO and winemaker of LoveLee Wine. “Sweetness is solely based on sugar content, not fruit flavors.”
A juicy wine is bursting with the aromas and flavors of fruit, and is often quite similar to the descriptor “fruit-forward.” In some circumstances, juicy wines are akin to “a fresh-fruit bomb complimented with some mouthwatering acid,” says Holly Berrigan, founder of MYSA Natural Wines. “When I think of ‘juicy’ I think of it as almost the fresh version of ‘jammy.’ Popping with fruit, but the fruit quality is fresh and vibrant versus intense and heavy.”
Examples of juicy wines might include young vintages of red grapes like Gamay, Grenache, Pinot Noir or Merlot.
“Youth is definitely a factor in juicy wine, since fruit is a key component of the primary characteristics of a wine,” says Berrigan, who adds that secondary and tertiary characteristics come from fermentation and aging, respectively. As a wine gains those other characteristics, she says, “fruit is typically the first to go, so logically the younger, the more juicy the wine is likely to be.”
Berrigan also suggests that those interested in identifying this note can keep their eyes peeled for wines that have undergone carbonic maceration, a winemaking technique that can also create a juicy profile.
What types of foods pair well with juicy wines? That depends.
“Typically [juicy wine has] some nice acidity going on and low tannin, so that’s important in factoring your foods,” says Berrigan. Sweeter dishes can heighten bitterness and mute the fruit flavors in dry wines, but Berrigan says that savory foods that involve fruit, like mango salsa, can work well with juicy wines.
Juicy wines are also unfussy favorites. “Put them with your chicken nuggies, kebab, late night pizza,” says Berrigan. “The wine is typically easy, so the food should be easy, too.”
Or, try drinking them on their own! Juicy wines are often easy-drinking enough to have without much food. The “glou glou” category of wine, which gets its name from the sound wine supposedly makes when rapidly poured from the bottle or down one’s throat, is full of juicy, light-bodied wines often drunk without accompaniment. The next time you hear a wine described as glou glou or chuggable, chances are a juicy bottle bursting with fruit is headed your way.