Keith called me into the living room this morning because the news was going to report on a new diet wine that would be out for Thanksgiving.
Diet wine? Okay diet, to me, means less calories, and often, less flavor. Interesting. I like my wine, so I’ve never been overly concerned about how many calories I’ve been consuming so I thought I’d look up how many calories are in a glass of wine.
Calories in alcohol
It turns out that 1 gram of alcohol contains 7 calories. It doesn’t matter if it is alcohol in wine, alcohol in beer, or alcohol in vodka. Drink 1 gram and you’ve consumed 7 calories.
On the other hand, 1 gram of sugar contains only 4 calories.
Wine is the product of fermenting the sugars in the fruits. Additional sugar may be added to the process if the fruit does not contain enough sugar.
Amount of alcohol
Given that 1 gram of alcohol is 7 calories, we need to know the amount of alcohol in our bottle of wine.
If you look at the label, it typically shows a number as a percent ABV – ABV in the alcohol based on volume – so a wine that is labeled at 11.5% ABV has that percentage of alcohol in the wine. If the wine is labeled “table wine” it contains between 10% and 14% alcohol. Dessert wines are between 14% and 24%.
Since the caloric value of the wine is based on the amount of alcohol in it, the higher the alcohol, the higher the calories. On average, a glass of wine can contain 100 to 300 calories.
Size of glass
This is critical to the amount of calories being consumed. The bigger the glass, the more the calories. Wine glasses, like any other glasses, come in an assortment of shapes and sizes. Most establishment pour a 6 oz. serving, some may pour a 5 oz. glass, but, hey, in my living room, I may pour 8 oz. in my glass.
Let’s see how this all adds up. The formula for determining the amount of calories in a glass of wine is:
(glass size in grams x alcohol % x 7) + (glass size in liters x sugar level x 4)
To keep it simple, we will say that there is no residual sugar and no added sugar to our glass of wine.
We are using a 6 oz. serving which is 170.097 grams. We also have two bottles of wine – the diet wine at 9.5% ABV and our favorite wine at 11% ABV.
Diet wine computes at 170.097 x 9.5% X 7 = 113 calories
Favorite wine computes at 170.097 x 11% x 7 = 131 calories
Oh, but wait! The bottle of the diet wine says it is only 85 calories. Is our math wrong? No. Our math is correct. Let’s look at the bottle again and check out the serving size. Their caloric value was based on a 5 oz. serving.
Diet is a great advertising ploy. The taste and flavor that the drinker likes and wants should determine the wine that is chosen.
There are low-alcohol wines available – German Kabinett Riesling at 8% ABV and Italian Moscato d’Asti at 5.5% ABV are two example. And these wines, even though they are not labeled “diet” are lower in calories as well.
Enjoy your wine because you like the flavor not because of the calories.