There is a myth that seems very common amongst wine drinkers, and that is that red wine is healthier and less caloric than white wine. Many think there is a lot more sugar in white wine. But is there? Let's discuss how many calories are in red wine and how to keep your calories down if you choose to drink the red drink. (disclaimer: our tip is to stick with Bev, but here we go anyway!)
How Many Calories Are In a Glass of Red Wine?
Because you're a smart person, we know that you know that this depends on how much wine is being poured. But, a typical restaurant serving size glass of wine (aka five ounces of wine) has 125 calories. So you can assume the pours you give yourself at home have a 'tad' more than that no matter what type of wine it is… we don't judge because we do the same thing if we're not drinking a pre-portioned sassy little Bev can.
Where Do The Calories Come From?
Calories and wine come from alcohol and sugar. In general, wine is made up of water, alcohol, carbohydrate, and trace minerals. Wine's carbohydrates come from the residual sugar that is left in the wine. Not to point any fingers, but alcohol adds more calories to the finished product with seven calories per gram, whereas sugar adds about four calories per gram. So although the wine isn't exceptionally high in calories, it is easy to consume wine in excess. And that's when the calorie count starts adding up.
Here is a helpful tip when you're trying to decipher how many calories are in a bottle of wine you have: add the calories of alcohol with the calories of carbs.
What To Look For on The Nutrition Label?
In case you haven't noticed, wine bottles don't include nutrition facts on their labels. Sadly, this is because alcoholic beverages are not classified as nutritious. But as wine drinkers and lovers, we feel it is our duty to remind the FDA that red wine does have health benefits like lowering heart disease and stroke.
Sweet wines are always going to be higher in calories, so avoid anything labeled as a dessert wine. Even the odd Zinfandel can be sweeter than you expect. But back to the point, although there are no nutrition labels, if you are looking to decrease the number of calories you drink and want to stick to red wine, stick to dry wines like the following:
- Merlot: flavors range from herbs and blackberries to black cherries and plums. If they have aged in oak, some may notice notes of vanilla, clove, and cedar!
- Cabernet Sauvignon: A wine that smells like tobacco and leather, this dry red has dark fruit flavors like blackberry and black cherries.
- Syrah: A wine that tastes oddly similar to bacon but fruitier. An elegant and savory drink, the wine has flavors of vanilla and floral notes.
- Pinot Noir: This dry red has complex flavors ranging from raspberry, cherry, and mushroom.
- Malbec: A full-bodied babe rich with dark fruit flavors and notes of tobacco and dark chocolate.
- Tempranillo: A flavorful red with flavors of cherry, dried fig, and tobacco. Its deep, dark fruit notes often characterize it.
Aside from wine type, you can also follow a few other guidelines if you are attempting to avoid the calories in your red wine.
- Pick wines with lower alcohol content(abv): Remember: alcohol is made from sugar. The process of fermentation is what creates wine. Therefore, alcohol has a significant impact on the overall calories in your drink, and with higher alcohol content comes more calories. When you are drinking alcohol, your liver prioritizes metabolizing the alcohol first and puts everything else on pause. Can't blame your liver; it wants to get rid of those toxins! This means that all other metabolizing, including burning calories or fat cells, are placed on hold.
- Keep away from red wines grown in the warm wine-growing areas: So for California wines, you want to avoid areas like Central Valley or Temecula. Grapes in the warmer regions tend to get very ripe, and ripe grapes mean sugar and sugar means more alcohol. And we already discussed what more alcohol means.
- Wines from France are a safe bet. French wines have low alcohol, and wine production there is heavily regulated. So you can rest assured that sugar wasn't added during the fermentation process.
- So, even though this article is about red wines, our suggestion for controlling calories in red wines is to stick to white wines. Oops. But in reality, white wines are lower in alcohol and, therefore, have fewer calories. And if you want to watch your calories/intake, drink Bev, the queen of low calorie wines.
How Much Sugar is In a Glass of Red Wine?
It's important to remember that all wine has sugar because it's made from grapes, which have sugar. But the reason wines are different in the amount of sugar is because of fermentation. In fermentation, yeast is the ruler and turns natural sugar into alcohol. To make a sweeter wine, winemakers stop the process before yeast eats up all of the sugar. This results in a wine that has a little bit of residual sugar. Dry wines, in contrast, allow the fermentation to complete, leaving very little residual sugar.
Other factors affect a wine's sugar level. When grapes are harvested, for example, has a significant impact on sugar levels. This is because the riper the grape, the higher the sugar content. In general, however, red wine has about .5 grams of sugar in a 5-ounce glass.
Can Wine Make Me Gain Weight?
Let's get one thing straight: anything not in moderation can make you gain weight. So, yes, if you guzzle down wine like it's water, you might gain weight. That said, if you guzzle down Gatorade, lemonade, or another flavored drink, especially alcoholic drinks, you will also gain weight. Moderation is the name of the game here! And if you need help sticking to moderation, Bev is an option for you with ZERO sugar and only 160 calories per can (aka glass and a half!)
Because red wine is naturally low in sugar and carbs, weight gain is likely not going to come from the wine. Weight gain will probably come from the 'drunchies.' AKA, when you've had a few drinks, and suddenly that leftover pizza that you have in the fridge is gone at record speed. When the drunchies hit, you start craving food that's high in fat, salt, and carbs. Why? Because alcohol lets your brain think you're starving so you want those empty calories.
In a study published by Nature, scientists found that mice's brains had agouti-related peptide neurons when intoxicated. AKA the particular neurons that deal with hunger. So, while under the influence, your mind is telling you your starving. Counteract this by planning. If you know, you're going to enjoy a 'night on the town,' plan to have healthy snack options instead of all the delicious temptation (read: high calorie) food that you know you shouldn't be eating.