How Many Calories are in a Glass of Wine?
As January comes to a close, most folks are re-evaluating whether or not their New Year’s resolutions are working. How many calories are in a glass of wine? That might be the first question that comes to mind for wine enthusiasts who are looking to lose weight in 2013. Wondering if all that wine drinking is weighing in on your waistline?
Wine Oh TV’s Monique Soltani gets to the bottom of exactly how many calories you are consuming in each wine glass and uncovers the skinny on skinny wines with Certified Sommelier & Wine Consultant at Chambers Eat + Drink, Chiara Shannon.
HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN A GLASS OF WINE?
Wine gets its calories from sugar and alcohol. The average glass of wine is around 130 calories per six ounce glass of wine. This doesn’t mean that some wines aren’t more or others less, but that’s a safe average. The grape variety, where it is grown, how ripe it gets, and how it is handled in the winery when made into wine affect how caloric or alcoholic it may be.
WHICH RED WINE HAS THE LEAST AMOUNT OF CALORIES?
You can expect the red wines from Burgundy, especially the farther north you go up the Cote d’Or, to be lighter in body and alcohol (rarely exceeding 12%) when compared to many styles of red wine, especially full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandels. If you are unfamiliar with Pinot Noir from Burgundy, this would be a great opportunity to give it a taste alongside a gourmet food pairing.
WHICH WHITE WINE HAS THE LEAST AMOUNT OF CALORIES?
The classic white wine the Basque region of Spain, known as Txakoli, is bone dry, crisp and refreshing, clocking in at the lowest end of the spectrum, around 80 calories a glass.
HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN A GLASS OF CHAMPAGNE?
The average caloric content of a glass of champagne is about 90 calories. You can look for low or no dosage styles of champagne for even less calories, since those are the driest styles. Champagnes have naturally high acidity and excellent texture and are among the most food-friendly wines in the world.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON “SKINNY WINES”?
Wines marketed as ‘skinny’ wines promise a set amount of calories and lower alcohol than ‘regular’ wines, kind of like ‘sugar free’ cookies’ vs. regular cookies. Most ‘skinny’ wines promise around 100 calories, and I’ve seen 12% alcohol down to 7%. To achieve this kind of production consistency at the high volume necessary to meet mass consumer demand, these wines have been ‘worked on’ considerably, from start to finish. It starts in the vineyard (picked early) followed by controlled fermentations with lab yeasts, additives to enhance flavor, possibly (and paradoxically) added sugar to finish fermentation and likely some kind de-alcoholixation filtration process to keep the alcohol content consistent for mass production. Much of the grape’s natural character and flavor, not to mention expression of terroir is lost this way- I mean, with wine, as with cookies, nothing beats the real thing.
Many wines out there are NATURALLY around 100 calories for 5-6 oz., and similarly moderate in alcohol, 12-13 ABV or less. These are wines that have been made that way without additives or extra ‘work’ and are interesting, food friendly, and distinctive. They hail from places all over the world, and bring with them interested traditions and food-pairing possibilities.
So, for me, I’ll take a glass of naturally skinny wine, be it from Champagne, Txakoli, or Burgundy, rather than a wine labelled as such. That’s because I appreciate natural wines in general, and I happen to like lighter styles because I enjoy my wine with food, and prefer wines that complement, rather than dominate a dish. The fact that the wine contains less calories and moderate alcohol than average is merely a perk.
The great thing about wine is that it’s entirely a subjective experience. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy wine. Some people find comfort in a ‘guarantee’ of a set number of calories, whether it’s wine or a cookie, and I respect that. How do you think French women stay trim while indulging on cheese and wine? Portion control. On the other hand, I also understand the dangers of thinking that something is ‘lite’ – it can give those of us with weaknesses in regards to portion control permission to over-indulge, and we might end up consuming way more calories than we would have if the single serving satisfied us. With wine, this could result in not just added unwanted calories, but a ridiculous and unwanted hangover!
I will say that what I do like about the market-driven ‘skinny’ wine trend is that it is calling attention to wine labeling issues in general. Caloric content is not required to be listed on any wine label in the United States or anywhere in the world, for that matter. Frankly, it astonishes me that this detail, along with any other added ingredients besides grapes and sulfur, are not required to be listed on wine labels here, considering how important these details are to American consumers in regards to practically everything else they put into their bodies. Many people don’t know that there are a great variety of naturally skinny wine options out there because the essential details simply are not listed on the label.
WHAT IS THE TRICK TO SPOTTING NATURALLY LIGHTER WINES?
The trick to spotting the naturally lighter wines? First, Champagne (the real stuff, from Champagne, France) is always safe! After that, think of climate (fruit ripens less where it’s cold, which affects sugar content), and notice any helpful terms on the label (Sec, Dry, etc.) which can inform you as to the level of dryness (a measure of residual sugar) of a wine. Color can also inform you about a wine’s body and richness – the lighter and less saturated the color, often the less concentrated the wine will be, which can indicate a less ripe, drier wine. Txakoli, for example, is so pale it’s almost totally transparent. Compare this to your image of a full-bodied Chardonnay and its rich golden hue.
WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE PEOPLE WHO ARE DINING OUT BUT STILL WANT TO WATCH THEIR WINE WAISTLINE?
When dining out, your Sommelier can also be a great resource. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about factors of dryness, body, weight, and richness in a wine. It’s the purpose of the job to know these things and help steer guests in the right direction.
Click the link below to listen to Monique Soltani’s radio interview with Chiara Shannon.