Several Methods to Add Body to Wine

As you get more experienced with making wine at home, you start to think about the quality of your wines. One of the most common theme that I see home come is how to add …

How to Add Body to Wine
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As you get more experienced with making wine at home, you start to think about the quality of your wines. One of the most common theme that I see home come is how to add body to wine.

Many home winemakers produce wine that seems to lack body. This is especially true if you are making fruit based wine. Typically, grape wine kits are pretty decent when it comes to body, but fruit wine and fruit wine recipes can really taste like they are missing something.

So how do you add body to homemade wine? Let’s take a look at this interesting topic.

What is Body in Wine?

When you listen to someone describe the taste of a wine, the word “body” almost always comes up. But what does body mean when you are discussing a wine?

Body refers to the weight, texture, and viscosity of the wine when it hits your mouth. These are all key indicators of a wine’s characteristics. Some people prefer a lighter-bodied wine, while other would like a heavier-bodied wine.

A heavier or full-bodied wine typically contains more tannins and sometimes more sugar depends on if the wine is dry or sweet.

Tannin is a naturally occurring compound that is found in plants. It is usually what gives wine it’s structure, or body, and that little bit of bitterness. It also contributed to the mouth feel of the wine.

Tanning is much more common in red wines and not as common in white or fruit wines. This is why red wines are more often describe as bold and they tend to have a different mouth feel when they hit your tongue for the first time. However, some white wine such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc are referred to as more heavily-bodied white wine.

Some tannin can also be contributed to how the wine is aged. For example, wine aged in oak barrels can extract some tanning from the barrels. This is why many red wines are oak barrel aged for many months. While some white wines are not barrel aged at all.

In grape wine, the body is mostly determined by the type of grapes used to make the wine. Some wine grapes contain more tanning than others.

Wine that is heavy bodied is generally described to be more intense on the tongue, while lighter-bodied wine is usually more delicate.

Varying tannin levels can greatly impact the body of the wine.

Why Does Homemade Wine Lack Body?

Most home winemakers choose to use a winemaking kit when they start out. However, even if you are sourcing grapes or grape juice, your wine may be lacking in body.

As mentioned above, tannin levels contribute the most to body. However, many wine kits, especially lower cost options, are lacking in tannin due to the way the wine is extracted. While wine kit makers attempt to keep as much tanning as possible, the juice in wine kits usually comes in a concentrated form that doesn’t capture the essence of tannin.

Some of the more premium wine kits do a better job of keeping tannin, or come with additional tanning that can be added in powder form. These wine kits are more expensive, usually over $100, but can produce a much better wine. Winexpert Eclipse kits are an example of a more high-end winemaking kit.

With homemade fruit wine, most home winemakers tend to use wine recipes that call for fresh fruit and additional water. Most of the fruits used don’t contain a lot of tannin to begin with, then you water down the recipe. Leaving even less tannin.

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If you are making wine straight from juice, the extraction process usually still leaves much to be desired in mouth feel. There are some newer processes that attempt to extract more tannin, especially in red wines, but they are still not the same as the way a commercial winery would make a bold red.

How to Add Body to Wine?

If you’re wondering how you can correct all the problems mentioned above, and add back some of the body to your wine, we’ll take a look at a few options.

Starting with a Higher Quality Wine Kit

If you’re using a cheaper wine kit, but expecting to get a really good body out of the wine, you’re probably out of luck. The first step to ensuring that you make quality wine is starting with quality ingredients. So you’ll want to buy a premium wine kit to get better quality ingredients to start with.

One of the major reasons that red wine kits lack body is because many of the kits do not include grape skins. Much of the tannin in red wine is extracted from grape skins. So starting with a wine kit that includes grape skins is a really good way to keep tannin and increase the body of your wine.

These kits do cost a premium, but they produce a more premium wine. Most winemakers say that you cannot produce a great wine from low quality grapes. The same can be said about wine kits.

Here is a good example of a quality wine kit that contains grape skins.

Adding Tannin to Your Homemade Wine

A quick way to increase the tannin level in your wines is to, well, add tannin. You can actually buy grape tannin in a powder form and add it to your wine.

Whether you like to make dry or sweet wine, additional tannin can greatly increase the body and mouthfeel of the wine.

Typically, the recommendation for adding tanning is about 1/2 tsp per gallon of wine. However, you can experiment with more or less tannin to see how it impacts your homemade wine.

The good news is that adding tannin to your wine is relatively cheap and tannin powder can be purchased online or at your favorite local winemaking shop.

Oak Your Homemade Wine to Add Body

As we mentioned before, aging wine in oak barrels can contribute to the body of the wine. This is wine many red wines are aged for several months, even years, to produce award winning wines.

You’re probably not going to get a full size wine barrel at home. For one, they are very expensive. Also, I highly doubt you want to make nearly 60 gallons on wine at home, unless you are very thirsty.

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That is not a problem though, there are several options on the market to give home vintners a chance to add oaky body to their homemade wines. Here are some options to oak homemade wine.

Oak Power

Oak powder can be added to wine. This form of oak is sometimes a little more difficult to work with because the power needs to be removed from the wine. This could mean waiting longer for gravity to do it’s job and then rack the wine, or using a filter.

Oak Chips

Adding oak chips is another way to increase body and oak flavor of a wine. The chips are good because they add the flavor, but you don’t really have to filter them out in the same way you would an oak powder. These chips can also add hints of other flavors such as vanilla.

Oak Spirals

My personal favorite are oak spirals. These are designed to both increase body and be easy to use. The spirals are the perfect size to drop into a carboy. They are spiral carved to increase surface area, leading to more tanning and oak being extracted.

Plus oak spirals are actually easy to get back out of the carboy. The same cannot be said for oak chips. You also won’t need to filter out oaky powder if you use spirals.

Add Additional Fruits

One secret that many fruit wine makers uses is to add other fruits like bannans or raisins to their wine recipes.


Adding ripe bananas to a homemade wine can add some sweetness and body to the wine. This is why many wine recipes will call for the use of bananas. Bananas add a increased depth and flavor profile to the wine.

However, you do not want to over do it and cause your wine to taste like bananas. 1 or two ripe bananas is usually enough to get the results we want.


Since raising are made from dried grapes, they contain concentrated amounts of tannins. Raisins can add overall complexity and body to your wine.

Typically, raisins are diced and added during primary fermentation to give them more exposure to the wine. However, some winemakers add them in secondary fermentation, or even during the aging process.

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Not only do raisins increase tannin levels, but they can also help add color and aroma to homemade wines.


We know that tannins come from grape skins, so it makes sense that adding grapes with skins to your homemade wine would increase tannins. This is a trick that is often used for fruit wines. It helps displace some of the water in the recipe, leading to a more rich wine.

It’s best to use quality wine grapes for this, which can be difficult for home winemakers to get a hold of. I wouldn’t recommend using table grapes, but you could potentially try using the deepest color table grapes that you can find.

You can also use grape juice in a fruit wine recipe, however you’ll want to adjust the sugar levels that the recipe calls for. This can help produce a better tasting wine, but won’t do a ton for adding body.

Use Honey as a Sweetener

In many homemade wine recipes, regular table sugar is used to sweeten wine but switching to honey can help increase the flavor profile and body of the wine.

When you use table sugar it is mostly fermented out. Even if you add it after fermentation to back sweeten wine, it doesn’t add a ton of flavor.

Honey is extremely complex in flavor due to the way it is produced by bees from the pollen of many different plants.

Using Fining Agents

There are special fining agents designed to help winemakers produce a better wine. They can help to clarify, stabalize, and reduce off-flavors. While the effects on body may not be as pronounced, they do help with overall flavor profile, which can be perceived as body.

Gelatin powder is sometimes use as a fining agent.

Bentonite clay is another natural option for refining wine.

There are also some special fining agents like Super-Klear

Conclusion – Adding Body to Wine

Homemade wine can sometimes lack body, but there are several things that we can do to try to address this. If you follow the tips above, you’ll be producing a much better quality wine with a more refined body.

Try these tricks out individually, or combine them together to see what kind of results you get from your next batch of homemade wine.

John has been a hobbyist winemaker for several years, with a few friends who are winery owners. He writes mostly about winemaking topics for newer home vintners.
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