Is it Really Diet Wine?


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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.

Math time

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.

Which wine?

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.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.
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How Beneficial is Wine?


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Since we are hoping to open a winery in the next year or so, I thought I would add articles on wine to this blog as well.

Winemaking is as old as civilization itself and has been a part of living. Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast so the host would not lose face by running out of wine!

But wine is an alcohol. Is it bad for us or as good as some of the articles want us to believe?

Wines contain antioxidants. The amount depends on the fruit, usually grapes, that the wine is made from and the age of the wine. Several antioxidants are lost as the wine ages, so, maybe the vintage wine in the cellar tastes good, but, it may not be as good for your body as a younger wine.

How quickly do these antioxidants disappear? One study reported that 90% of the anthocyanin* content is lost in the first few months. So while none of the flavor is lost, the health benefits that we are looking for could be.

Wine also contains tannins. While grapes, red grapes in particular, have the highest concentration of tannins. Tannin can also be added to a wine if the fruit does not contain a sufficient amount. In wine, the tannin adds the bitterness, astringency, and dryness to the wine. It is also a natural antioxidant, which is good for the wine and those of us who drink it!

As far as most research goes, there is no conclusive proof that wine is as good for you as we would like to believe, but, just eating grapes would not provide the same amount of tannin and other antioxidants that are contained in wine. That is because all grapes are not created equal. American grapes, regardless of how red they might be, do not have the same benefits as red wine grapes. That’s because it was bred out of them!

My philosophy is – eat a well-balanced diet and pair it with a good wine!

Na zdrowie!

* Anthocyanins are water-soluble vacuolar pigments that may appear red, purple, or blue depending on the pH.
KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.