Wine Nutrition Facts: Carbs, Calories and Sugar in Wine

Wine has been consumed for millennia and is an integral part of many world cultures. Yet, like any other food or drink, questions about its nutritional implications and its relationship with weight remain relevant. There’s a strong consumer movement to increase the amount of nutritional  information available about wine. For instance, starting in December 2023, a new EU law requires that any wine sold in Europe must include the calories it contains, the list of ingredients (such as water, alcohol, sulfites, pectins, aroma compounds...), and nutritional information (such as carbohydrates, sugars, vitamins, and mineral salts).

Wine contains calories. But what is its actual effect on an individual’s caloric profile? And more importantly, could wine help someone lose weight? The answers to these questions vary depending on who you ask, but who should we believe? Let's investigate.

Calories and Composition of Wine 

First, let's review the numbers. A glass of dry wine (the kind most commonly sold at the best online wine store) of approximately 150 ml usually contains between 120 and 140 calories. The caloric content relates closely to the alcohol level: the lower the alcohol content, the fewer the calories. A dry wine contains around 3 to 4 grams of carbohydrates, of which less than 2 grams are sugars. It's important to note that in most wines, the sugar is not added but is naturally derived from the grapes, similar to the sugar found in fruits and some vegetables. However, in sweet wines like Port, Sherry, or dessert wines, the sugar content can exceed 10 grams per liter, sometimes reaching over 30 grams.

Metabolism and Wine Consumption

We cannot discuss wine without mentioning its effect on the metabolism. Alcohol can alter how our body processes fats. But this doesn't mean wine automatically ruins any diet. Nutritionists argue that other foods turn into fat when too much alcohol is consumed. 

Opting to pair alcohol with low-carb options, like vegetables and proteins, reduces the risk of weight gain. It's also worth noting that wine contains no fats or cholesterol and has virtually no sodium. Moreover, it is proven to be compatible with health-oriented diets, such as the Mediterranean diet.

Drinking wine with meals can enhance nutrition. Foods slow the absorption of alcohol in the body, helping maintain metabolism and prevent excessive fat storage. Some even suggest wine could aid digestion. A study published in one medical journal showed a link between moderate red wine consumption and lower levels of hard-to-eliminate visceral fat. Lead researcher Brittany Larsen noted that wine "seems to help control appetite."

Another 2020 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that moderate alcohol consumers actually have a lower body mass index (BMI) than non-drinkers. The same study suggests that wine drinkers might also be more likely to lead healthy lifestyles and exercise regularly.

Far from being just a source of empty calories from alcohol, wine has more to offer. Rosa Lamuela-Raventós, an associate professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Barcelona, indicated in 2021 that wine is an important source of potassium and minerals and that its polyphenols might promote calorie burning.

Health Benefits: Red versus White Wine

In general terms, the calories are very similar in red and white wines. The key lies in the alcohol content, the sugars present, and the volume yourdrink, regardless of the color. To be precise, a glass of red wine can contain about 63 calories per 100 ml, while white wine has approximately 70 calories per 100 ml. This is roughly the amount of kcal in one yogurt.

However, tippling from that red wine bottle has more health benefits than white wine. This is because red wine contains more resveratrol than white wine, as it is primarily found in the seeds and skin of the grape used in the fermentation process, which white wine lacks. The process of making these wines is quite similar but has several crucial variations in obtaining a radically different final product. For example, the maceration process of red wine lasts several days, as it follows a first fermentation. In contrast, white wine usually has no maceration, or it lasts only a few hours.

If the must is macerated with the skin and seeds before fermentation, white wine will contain more aromatic components and resveratrol, the antioxidant present in red wine with anti-aging properties and cardiovascular and brain benefits. Among all the options when you order wine online, if you are a wine lover, it is better to choose red wine from a vintage over two years prior. Especially regarding sugar content, the younger the wine, the more sugar it has.

The Key Is in the Dose: Moderation Reigns

Ultimately, as with most things we consume, it all comes down to the dose: water is entirely healthy, but if you consume too much, it can be fatal (as happened to Bruce Lee). Black coffee without sugar has beneficial effects on metabolism, but drinking a liter a day is not advisable. Extra virgin olive oil is liquid gold for health, but overuse leads to obesity and associated diseases. Many chemical compounds are poisons for the body, but taken in the correct dose, they become medications sold in pharmacies and cure illnesses. In the end, the old adage applies to wine: dose and moderation are essential.


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