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3 Rules on Low Cal Wines








There is a lot of information in the media regarding healthy dieting, but not everyone understands about the calorie consumption in alcoholic beverages. Did you know that alcohol converts to calories almost twice as much as carbs and sugars? The good news is that wine normally contains less calories than beer and other drinks. And there are many low calorie wines available. Here are some more interesting facts on low cal wines, provided by

Where do calories in wine come from?

There are two contributing elements: alcohol and sugar, and they can vary significantly depending on grape variety, growing region and wine style. Alcohol is created in wine when yeasts convert the grapes’ natural sugars during fermentation. Grapes that are less ripe produce wines that have less alcohol. If the wine is “dry” in style, which most still wines are, it will also have little to no residual sugar, making a solid low-calorie option to stay on diet. There has been a surge of low-calorie wines in recent years, promising to keep you slim, but the wine style is far from new and many of these new brands are simply marketing what has been practiced for hundreds, even thousands, of years. As far back as Bacchus, dry, low-alcohol wines have been a staple throughout the “Old World” for everyday consumption. Largely consumed by local folks in the wine region, these treasures are becoming more abundant in the US market and represent some of the finest wine discoveries and best values out there.

 3 rules to get you started on your low-calorie wine quest

Rule #1: Look for Low Alcohol

look for low alcohol and thus, low-calorie wines: The first step is to look for wines with a low alcohol by volume (marked ABV on the bottle). Typically we like this to be under 12.5% for whites and 13.5% or less for reds. Alcohol percentages are always listed on the label by law, so this is an easy one. However, if you don’t have the bottle handy, think about the wine’s region to help determine the alcohol content. Is it a cool climate, or a warm climate? Since fruit gets less ripe in cooler climates, chances are wines from cooler regions will have less alcohol. Some regions and names to

  • Germany’s Mosel
  • Spain’s Txakoli
  • Portugal’s Vinho Verde
  • France’s Loire Valley or Burgundy
  • Chile’s Bio Bio Valley
  • Australia’s Tasmania and Victoria
  • Italy’s Alto Adige and Val d’Aosta
  • Austrian Gruner Veltliner or Zweigelt
  • Anything from New Zealand

Oh, and let’s not forget Champagne! Low in alcohol and sugar, Champagne (or any sparkling wine for that matter) is a fabulous option… that coincidentally makes you feel fabulous. For a really low-cal Champagne, try an Ultra Brut style (no dosage at all!).

Rule #2: Opt for Dry, but Slightly Sweet is Not Off Limits

The second rule for selecting a low-calorie wine is estimating the sugar content. This requires a little bit of knowledge about wine styles, but not too much. Most wines with low alcohol content are dry – remember the yeasts eat the sugars and convert them into alcohol! These little guys LOVE sugar and don’t stop until it runs out. However, it is possible for a winemaker to put an end to their sugar high to preserve a little sweetness in the wine. Moscato d’Asti and German Rieslings are prime examples of sweeter low-alcohol wines. Moscato d’Asti is very low in alcohol, usually about 5-6%, but has significantly more sugar than a dry wine, approx. 50 g/l (about the same as a bottle of Snapple Iced Tea). In well-made versions the low alcohol balances the extra sugar calories and it evens out to be about 70-80 calories per glass. So, if you hanker for sweet wine this could be your answer. (It should be noted that sugar content in Moscato d’Asti can get much higher (100-150g/l), particularly in mass produced wines.)

Rule #3: Use Your Senses

Now, what if you don’t have a bottle to reference at all? This is a common conundrum at BBQs and large gatherings of the sort. Someone kindly brings you a glass of mystery wine they scored at the beverage bar and has no recollection of what was poured in the glass. Never fear. Drync has helpful tips for this too! First, check out the legs on that baby. Before you even taste a wine, you can get an idea for its alcohol and sugar content by looking at what is called the wine’s “legs.” Swirl the wine in the glass and watch how it drips downs the sides. The more it clings to the glass and comes together slowly in thick drips, the more residual sugar and alcohol there is in the wine. If you are still unsure, take a sip and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does it taste sweet?
  • Do you feel alcohol rising through your nose?
  • Does it coat your mouth?