wine spritzer

If you're looking to cut calories, consider making a wine spritzer with wine and club soda.

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“Dryuary,” the movement for taking a month-long break from alcohol consumption, may be coming to a close, but it’s important to note that having a glass of wine at night doesn’t need to derail your nutrition goals. As a wine educator, I’m often asked how to make specific wine recommendations based upon limiting sugar and caloric content. Here are my suggestions for finding the best wines to enjoy while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The average caloric value of a standard five-ounce glass of wine is 100-125 calories, most of which comes from alcohol. If you’re worried about calories, consider consuming less wine. As with anything, moderation is key!

Hoping to enjoy the equivalent of two glasses of wine with the calories of one? Consider making a wine spritzer with wine and club soda. For reference, Coors Light has approximately 104 calories for a 12-ounce serving. In comparison, if you craft a spritzer that’s half wine and half club soda, you’re close to the same caloric content.

If you’re worried about sugar content, aim to buy a ‘dry’ (without sugar) wine. Certain white varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio are typically dry. This is especially true for those priced at greater than approximately $12/bottle. For reds, most are dry with the exception of larger production, high volume red wines (typically < $15). Less expensive wines tend to have higher sugar content in the United States because as a culture we like sugar. One of the most popular sweeter red wines, Apothic Red, contains approximately 2.2 grams of sugar per five-ounce glass. That’s still significantly lower than Coca Cola which contains 15 grams of sugar for the same quantity.

A few months ago, a friend asked me to give an opinion on a so called “healthy” wine brand that claimed to be a low-calorie wine option as well as keto-, paleo-, and diet-friendly. The honest truth is that these brands do have pros and cons. On one hand, these companies do provide a service for consumers making it easier to choose wines that guarantee they are low in sugar or alcohol. However, they are not distinct wineries and are more of a “processed good” than a crafted wine. These companies are typically large brands which buy bulk wine created to specific sugar and alcohol metrics, repackage it, and sell it for a premium under their name.

I’ve seen one brand repeatedly advertised online and on shelves at an average price of $16/bottle. You can find the same dry wine style and grape variety that’s a third cheaper by buying a winery-labeled wine without the fancy marketing.

Choosing wines that match your sugar and caloric goals doesn’t need to be challenging. While moderation is the first step in maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes wine, there are numerous dry and lower-alcohol wines available at a variety of outlets. And, you can always craft a wine cocktail which is a fantastic solution to nourishing your body without compromising enjoyment. Salud!

Kathryn House McClaskey is the owner, enologist, and principal wine educator for House of Wine, a wine laboratory teaching wine professionals and enthusiasts about wine.

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