Light-Bodied Red Wine Style Guide

Last updated: 9/2023

Applies to: winemakers making light-bodied red wines in a variety of styles. This article contains a pdf download with complete process and product recommendations.

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Winemakers can drive wine style based on key processing decisions and correct product choice. We created these Scott Labs wine style guides to provide both process and product recommendations for helping winemakers achieve their stylistic goals.


Light-Bodied Red Wines

Learn how we think about "Light-Bodied Reds" to determine if this style guide is right for you:


Light-bodied reds are red wines that are generally low alcohol, low tannin, with moderate-high acidity. They often express red fruit and floral aromas.


  • Pinot noir
  • Beaujolais-style wines
  • Grenache
  • Cinsault
  • Nebbiolo


Ensuring good color extraction

These varieties tend to be lower in color (anthocyanin) for a variety of reasons. Winemaking practices for these varieties should be optimized to facilitate color extraction.

  • Cold soaking is a practice often utilized to increase extraction of anthocyanin. The success of a cold soak can be impacted by fruit quality, temperature of fruit at reception, and temperature management during cold soaking. Cold soaking, in some cases, can allow proliferation of spoilage organisms so it is important to take appropriate microbial control actions.

Managing acid

These varieties tend to be more acidic. The perception of acidity should be managed to avoid under-ripe characteristics.

Protecting against off-odors

Some light-bodied wines, such as Pinot noir, are prone to developing volatile sulfur off-odors even when good fermentation practices are employed so no to low H2S production yeast strains should be considered in these cases.

More Wine Style Guides

Aromatic Whites

Chardonnay and similar white wines

Rhône Whites

Sauvignon blanc and similar white wines

Rosé Wines

Medium-Bodied Red Wines

Full-Bodied Red Wines