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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Calories in Wine

The holidays are here and with them comes the endless parties, holiday food trays and dangerously delicious cookies. With all of these holiday hazards being the cause of ballooning waist lines this time of year it helps to also remember that all those drinks (yes wine included) can add to the slowly growing calorie count each day. Since the FDA does not mandate labeling of nutrition facts on the back of wine bottles we have borrowed some great information from our friends over at Wine Folly.

determine the calories in a glass of wine by what wine is made of

Alcohol is Very High in Calories Per Gram

The highest calorie wines tend have the highest alcohol content. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram versus carbohydrates (sugar) which have 4 calories per gram. This means some sweet wines have less calories than some dry wines! Dry wines are commonly considered to range from around 11% alcohol to around 14%. However, a quick check of alcohol percentages of wines at the grocery store shows that many dry wines often exceed 15%. A standard 6 oz glass of dry wine with 15% alcohol has 175 calories.
Warm regions make higher alcohol wine!
Wines with typically higher alcohol content come from warmer growing regions where higher sugar content in grapes converts to higher alcohol content in wine. Dry wines with typically higher alcohol percentages are Zinfandel, Amarone, Shiraz and Grenache-Syrah-Mouvedre (GSM).
Super high alcohol sweet wines wines like Port, Tawny Port & Banyuls are a double whammy of sugar carb calories plus alcohol calories. To make Port wine, neutral grape spirits are added in order to inoculate (kill) the yeasts and leave sweetness in the wine. Port has 20% ABV and around 100 g/L of residual sugar. A standard 2oz glass of port has 103 calories.

Sugar in Champagne & Sparkling Wines

Champagnes and sparkling wines have added sugar and alcohol. The added amount is called “le dosage” and it’s added during the champagne making process. The dosage can range from nothing (aka “Brut Nature” or “Brut Zero”) to sweet (aka “Doux”) with up to 50 g/L of sugar. The laws on the Champagne region require the wines to be no more than 12.5% alcohol, however non-Champagne bubbly ranges from very light at around 9% alcohol to high at 15%. For a standard 5 oz pour, Champagne ranges from 124 calories (Brut Zero) to 175 calories (Doux).

Wine Calories Comparison Chart

compare calories in champagne
Calories in Red Wine
Calories in dessert wine

Wine Calories From Least to Most (6 oz pours)


German Spatlese Riesling (Dr. Hermann “H” 2009)
110 calories, bottle 495 calories

Slightly Sweet Lambrusco (Lini 910)
140 calories, bottle 630 calories

Cabernet Sauvignon from France
160 calories, bottle 720 calories

German Auclese Riesling
160 calories, bottle 720 calories

Cabernet Sauvignon from California
175 calories, bottle 788 calories

California 16% Zinfandel (Bob Biale)
190 calories, bottle 855 calories

Australian Shiraz (Mollydooker The Boxer)
190 calories, bottle 855 calories

Chateau Y’quem
270 calories, bottle 1215 calories (note: standard serving size is only 2oz which is 90 calories)

Ruby Port
310 calories, bottle 1395 calories (note: standard serving size is only 2oz which is 103 calories)

Tawny Port
320 calories, bottle 1440 calories (note: standard serving size is only 2oz which is 106 calories)
Calories in Wine Come From Carbs and Alcohol
Wine is made of mostly water, alcohol, carbohydrates and trace minerals(1). The carbohydrates come from residual sugar left in wine. Dry wines have less than 3 grams/Liter and sweet wines typically range from 20-150 g/L (some can have up to 300 g/L!). A late harvest dessert wine may have about 150 g/L of sugar compared to Coca-Cola at 111 g/L and Maple Syrup at 700 g/L(2). To determine the total calories in a wine add the calories of alcohol with the calories of carbs.
calculating calories is fun with basic math!
Conclusion From a Wine Geek
Sweet wines like riesling and lambrusco actually have less calories per glass than most cabernet sauvignon. However you may be enticed to drink more because they are also lighter in alcohol!
Even though a late harvest dessert wine like Chateau Y’quem has much more residual sugar than a can of Coca-Cola, you’re not likely to drink as much because the serving size is about six times less.
If you’re on a diet, don’t despair with just one glass of wine. You can skip dessert and use the same amount of calories for 2-3 servings of dessert wine. Oh... and... I’m not your doctor, so check with him/her first if you have serious health issues. Yep!

Enjoy Your Holidays (with Wine of Course),
Your Friends at White Horse Wine & Spirits

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