Liquid calories are often misunderstood and easy to ignore - even more so when they’re in alcohol. In this first in a series of articles looking at calories in alcohol, we take a look at where calories in wine come from, how they differ between different types of wine, and the choices you can make to reduce unwanted calories whilst still enjoying a glass here and there. Read on to find out the facts behind the calories in the wine that you’re drinking.
Where do the calories in wine come from?
The number of calories contained in a bottle of wine is dependent upon its alcohol and its sugar content. Out of these two variables, though, it is the alcohol content that typically has the greatest significance. For instance, whereas alcohol has 7 calories per gram, sugar (or carbohydrates) has 4 calories per gram.
Therefore, when unsure about the number of calories in the bottle of wine that you’re drinking, the best indicator you can use to approximate is typically the Alcohol By Volume Percentage (ABV%). Considering that ABVs vary from 5.5% for certain lower alcohol wines up to 17% for certain dry wines, paying close attention to this number is an important first step in monitoring your calorie intake from wine.
Nevertheless, it is still really important to understand the impact of sugar in the fermentation process and the consequent classification of the wine into dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet and sweet. As you’re probably well aware, grapes contain sugar and it is this sugar that during the process of making wine ferments into the alcohol. Once reaching a certain level of alcohol during this process, the fermentation stops leaving a certain amount of sugar in the wine, which is called residual sugar.
Although there will always be a degree of residual sugar in the wine that you’re drinking, this can vary significantly depending on the type of wine. For instance, whereas dry wines will have a small amount of residual sugar, sweeter wines will have a higher amount of residual sugar.
How many calories are there in a glass of white wine?
According to Drinkaware, a typical 175ml glass of white wine contains on average 159 calories. However, across the spectrum of popular white wines, due to their typical alcohol and sugar content, a chardonnay will often have a slightly higher number of calories compared to a pinot grigio or a sauvignon blanc.
Reflecting this trend, our lowest calorie white wine is a sauvignon blanc at 106 calories per 175ml (33% fewer calories on average), followed closely by a pinot grigio at 109 calories per 175ml (31% fewer calories on average).
How many calories are there in a glass of red wine?
There isn’t actually that much of a difference between the number of calories in a bottle of red and white. Statistics from Drinkaware, for example, show that a typical 175ml glass of red wine is 160 calories - just 1 calorie more than white wine. Again, however, there is a spectrum in terms of the different types of red wine and the number of calories typically contained. Toward the higher end are the likes of a cabernet sauvignon or malbec, but towards the lower end are your pinot noirs or merlot.
With regards to our own selection of lower calorie red wines, our skinniest option is the exquisite bottle from Mas Olivier that comes in at 109 calories per 175ml (32% lower on average).
How many calories are there in a glass of rosé wine?
Rosé wines tend to be a bit lighter than red and white wine, meaning less alcohol, meaning less calories in general. For instance, according to Drinkaware, a standard 175ml glass of rose wine has on average 147 calories - 13 and 12 calories lower than red and white respectively.
In terms of our own collection of lower calorie rosés, we have one particular bottle that comes in at 63 calories per 175ml, which is in fact 57% less calories on average when compared to a regular bottle. This particular bottle from First Cape does, however, have a relatively low ABV at 5.5%, but it is still an amazing alternative for those who love the taste of rosé but seriously want to reduce their calorie intake.
Calories in wine: what you need to remember.
As with anything related to calories, the portion size is what really matters. Even discounting the number of calories, moderation should always be taken with alcohol for overall health and wellbeing. As such, perhaps it could be worthwhile keeping a diary on the amount of alcohol you’re drinking to better understand the actual number of liquid calories you’re drinking?
That to one side, to reduce the number of calories consumed from wine, an important change could be as simple as switching from the regular bottle you buy from the supermarket to stocking up on the excellent selection of lower calorie wines we have here at SkinnyBooze. As discussed in a recent article, the difference it can make when you start to calculate calories saved across a month or year can be quite staggering.
Whatever your goals, we’re here to help by offering the UK the best information on the calories contained in alcohol, whilst providing the finest selection of lower calorie alternatives.
Until next time: always drink responsibly, drink smart and drink skinny.