Ever wondered about the calorie count of wine? Popular assumption has been that wine has zero calories, which is a big fat myth because apart from water, everything else has a calorie count. So how does wine have calorie? Well, it’s made of grapes and yeast and even though the yeast takes away all the sugar from the grapes during the fermentation process, it increases the calorie count as it produces alcohol. So the higher the alcohol content, the greater the calorie level.
According to the USDA, a standard, red bottle of wine may consist up to 625 calories that is 125 calories in every 5 fl oz. White wines have a lower calorie count with around 605 calories per bottle.
Wine bottles do not have nutritional labels because….
And why don’t we already have information on that and why do you have to read this piece to know how many calories are there in the wine bottle? Simply because the FDA doesn’t regulate wine. Now that’s surprising because almost everything you eat and drink has nutritional value and is regulated by the FDA; but wine has no fat, no protein, no cholesterol, no sodium and no actual sugar content. Therefore, it does not constitute for nutritional labeling. Lately however, there has been a call from people to include serving recommendations and at least some sort of labeling regarding the ingredients of a wine bottle.
There are however additives that are regulated by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau (TF), and the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and each of these deal with the additives, the alcohol content, the date of wine creation etc but none of them deal with ingredients and nutritional facts.
The Calories in Red and White Wine Explained
At it’s most basic nature, wine is grape juice and like every other fruit, grapes have energy, sugar and calories. Now the grapes used for wine making are not the traditional grocery store grapes rather they are over a thousand exotic grape varieties cultivated all around the world to give us the most exotic of wines. The sugar content in these grapes differ from each other and some may have higher levels of sugar while some may be lower. Red grapes forming red wine usually have a higher sugar level count and because they are higher in sugar level, they also form higher alcoholic content.
The key to know the calorie count of wine is to know its alcohol content!
The only difference between red and white wine is whites are fermented without grape skin and is put through the complete fermentation process of the wort – which is the grape juice obtained from the pressing of grape berries.
White Wine vs Red Wine
Let’s admit it. You’re counting calories now because you want to cut down on your eating habits and pursue a healthy lifestyle (we are hoping it is so!). So if you’ve been a heavy drinker, limit your count to one or two units a day (if you’re a woman) and three to four (if you’re a man). Don’t try to cheat with bigger glasses though!
Now because labels are not given on bottles, people generally assume white wine is better than red wine. That’s not necessarily the case. While white wine is lower in calorie count they are also made from red grapes but without the skin and the seeds. Yeast is added for fermentation and the end result is a light, crisp and fruity flavor. Red wine is also made with red grapes, albeit the darker versions with their skin and seeds along. The fermentation lasts for two weeks and gives a richer, more darker flavor (hence the higher calorie count!). Red wine consists of a higher level of antioxidants and thus it helps prevent cardiovascular diseases if taken in moderation. Both wines offer the same benefits and also the same risks if taken in excess. It is thus a matter of preference over a matter of benefits or limitations. With just a slight difference in calorie count, it shouldn’t really matter what you choose to have over the table.
Wine does not make you fat so counting wine calorie isn’t going to help your waistline
People also generally believe that wine can make us fat which is why they start calorie counting wine, but unless you’re drinking two bottles of wine every day for the next one month, you really have nothing to worry about.
Wine doesn’t make you fat because it has zero fat and almost zero carbs, it still has calories and it isn’t the calories that matter – it’s how our body consumes the calories from wine. We digest them differently as our body responds to incoming calories prioritizing it above other nutritional elements. If you drink before you eat, your body gets busy metabolizing the alcohol and delays the actual metabolism for the food. This change in metabolism procedure affects the blood sugar level and causes a dramatic drop which actually leads to increased hunger and irritation. So yea, if you’re going to have loads of food after consuming wine, you are definitely going to gain weight. Don’t blame it on the wine!
Calories in Different Types of Wine
There is no one standard of wine and so there is no one standard calorie count. While 625 is the standard count, there are some wines that have a higher count amounting to 650 calories; and this prediction is based on the most common types of wine, not taking into consideration the exotic and rare ones.
Here is a chart from the USDA website that gives an average count of 123 calories per 5-ounce glass.
- Monastrell – 130 calories
- Sangiovese – 126 calories
- Cabernet Franc – 123 calories
- Chardonnay – 123 calories
- Cabernet Sauvignon – 122 calories
- Merlot – 122 calories
- Pinot Grigio – 122 calories
- Syrah – 122 calories
- Grenache – 122 calories
- Pinot Noir – 120 calories
- Riesling – 120 calories
- Sauvignon Blanc – 120 calories
- Chenin Blanc – 118 calories
- Gewurztraminer – 118 calories
- Gamay – 114 calories
For the most of us, this calorie count doesn’t seem very high and we may be tempted to drown ourselves in bottles of it but you see, wine in excess is dangerous for our mental and physical health. It can lead to mental depression, to fatty liver problems and a horde of other chronic diseases.
Six Essential Categories of Wine
There are six different types of wine and if you want to know the amount of calories in a bottle of red wine or white wine, you will need to know the categories of these wine.
– Lower Alcohol Red: This type of wine has the lowest calorie count and contains an average of 135 to 165 calories in a 175ml serving. There is an 11 to 13% of ABV and the most common names that fall into this category are the Pinot Noirs and the Gamays.
– Higher Alcohol Red: These wines have high calorie because of higher levels of alchohol. A 175ml of wine has 165 to 195 calories.
– Lower Alcohol Sweet White: Since its sweet it has a high sugar content and low alcohol content with a 175ml of serving containing around 111 to 147 calories. The good thing is these wines are served in very generous amounts of 75 to 125ml amount as compared to the 175ml amount. If you’ve ever has the Moscato d’Asti, you’ll know what we are talking about!
– Higher Alcohol Sweet White: Sweet and higher in alcohol, this one has up to 213 calories in a 175ml serving!
– Lower Alcohol Dry White: Similar to lower alcohol red, this one has only 107 to 143 calories and 13.5% ABV. If you love Pinot Grigio, you can continue making it your staple drink.
– Higher Alcohol Dry White: And the brands in this category consist of up to 173 calories in a glass.
Let’s just try sticking to lower alcohols shall we?
Essential Ingredients of Wine
Wine may not have any nutritional value, however, that doesn’t mean it does not have essential ingredients. In fact, the standards that regular wine and alcohol in the US (TTB) stress on the regulations of ingredients and so the demand for labels was to get an idea of the ingredients in a bottle of wine. Again, the ingredients may vary depending on the type of wine we are talking about. The USDA website informs us that a glass of red wine consists of 187mg potassium, 12mg calcium, .084mg vitamin B-6 and more. For white wine, the ingredients are 104mg of 5 oz drink, 13mg of calcium and .074 of vitamin B-6. These do not take into count the variety of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that are present in a glass of wine.
Resveratrol is one of the most important anti-oxidant element present in wine and has been supposedly known to have anti-aging properties, thus making wine seem like a great drink to have if you want skin health benefits. The sad part though is that the level of resveratrol is quite low so it would take you 100 glasses of wine to get just 1 gram of the resveratrol. Skin health benefits can be derived from other better ways!
Pros and Cons of Wine
Similar to coffee, wine has always faced controversies when it came to health benefits and health risks. Hundreds of studies talk of the benefits of wine if taken in moderation (Please, note the emphasis on moderation), while recent studies dismiss even the notion of moderation stating that it could lead to breast cancer and addiction to alcohol. Most people start with wine thinking of it as a harmless drink only to end up relying on it to calm their stressed minds.
Let’s start with pros of red wine.
Red wine is known to reduce heart disease, signs of aging and promote longer lifespan.
But drinking more than 21 glasses a week can increase the risk of heart diseases! We need to understand that wine has the potential to be more harmful than beneficial.
Skin health? Only if you drink forever because resveratrol amount is just 1 milligram in one glass!
Longer lifespan? Well that’s speculative at best, but even then it’s only possible if you drink one glass of wine everyday for the rest of your long lifespan.
Now let’s take a look at the cons:
Drinking messes up with your diet, and so the one glass of wine that contains 123 calories will definitely be adding up to over 500 calories if you drink 5 glasses in a day. Those calories will be metabolized on a priority and so you may end up having digestive problems, not to mention derailing your diet plan if you intend to lose weight.
Alcohol also increases cortisol levels, the devilish chemical element that creates stress and anxiety. So the more alcohol you consume, the more you give rise to cortisol and the more you stress out only to have you drink again to control the stress. A vicious cycle that literally ruins your life.
Do we need to mention additional factors like sleep deprivation, cancer risks and a host of other problems associated with regular alcohol consumption?
The bottom line; avoid alcohol if you can, and if you can’t drink it only when there’s an occasion for celebration. Even in moderation, even with limited calories and zero fat, the drink is dangerous for your health and well-being.
You should also avoid any myth or misunderstand that may lead you to believe that one wine is better than the other or that white wine is less harmful than red wine. All wine is made through the same process of fermentation, that is using yeast to extract sugar from grapes and creating alcohol. If you really want something bittersweet, we suggest buying a bunch of grapes and nibble on them. Better yet, just buy organic grape juice and enjoy the benefits of a great fruit the healthy way. Who needs wine when you have grapes!
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