A glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away!

The message changes with the latest study but we desperately want to believe it’s healthy to drink wine. We enjoy drinking wine because it’s makes us feel good, it’s social and it’s interesting to talk about. Besides, if the French and Italians live long lives with a Mediterranean diet that includes wine, cheese and bread, why can’t Americans?

But drinking wine comes with a price that’s not only dollars. That price is counting calories which has become an obsession in our diet-crazed society. Sugar and alcohol are the primary elements in wine that determine calories. Sugar exists naturally in grapes and is converted to alcohol during the fermentation process in wine. After fermentation, varying degrees of residual sugar remain in all wines. Wines with high residual sugar are sweet wines such as Riesling, Moscato and dessert wines.

Alcohol which exists at nearly twice the amount of sugar (7 grams vs 4 grams) has a greater effect on calories. Most countries require alcohol content on wine bottle labels, ALC or ABV (alcohol by volume), the percentage of alcohol to liquid. Dry wines have alcohol from 11% to 16% and sweet wines generally have less than 11% alcohol.

Standard drink size of cocktail, wine or beer contains same amount of alcohol.

Standard drink size of cocktail, wine or beer contains same amount of alcohol.

CONCLUSIONS: use these guidelines to select wines with the lowest calories.

  1. Avoid sweet wines with high residual sugar (RS above 1gram/liter). If alcohol content is below 11%, most likely there is higher residual sugar.
  2. Select dry wines with lower alcohol content (11-12%). Old World (i.e. France and Italy) wine-making and viticulture can produce lower alcohol wines unlike New World producers where grapes grow in hotter climates.
  3. Select lighter red wines such as Pinot Noir which have lower alcohol and avoid big reds such as Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Shiraz.
  4. Dry white or red wines have similar calories but tannins in red wine can act as an appetite suppressant which moderates your food consumption.

“Short Pours” can reduce your intake of calories and alcohol.

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