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Food for Thought: Calorie Counting and Wine

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

Are there any good low-calorie wines on the market and more importantly are they worth it? We tested some of the most popular brands out there - here are our thoughts.


Recently I decided to go on a calorie-controlled diet - one of my best friends is getting married in August and I knew that if I lost a few pounds I would feel much better when shopping for a dress. Making food that is both delicious and low-calorie proved pretty easy for me but when it came to fitting in a glass of wine here and there I began to struggle.

Don't get me wrong I'm not saying I drink wine all the time - but I do like a glass with certain dishes, especially pasta and the thought of forgoing it completely like anything made me a little miserable. But when you are counting calories every calorie counts! But many say that drinking wine is empty calories so what do we do?


Unlike food, wine labels don't carry nutritional information so it is quite difficult to know how many calories your favourite wines contain. The NHS say a standard 175ml glass of 12% ABV wine is 133 calories equivalent to 3 jaffa cakes. So even just a few glasses soon add up, especially at home, as we are unlikely to accurately measure our servings.


Low-calorie wine: what are the options?

So I decided to do some research and see what low-calorie wine options are available and more importantly are they worth it. First off I came across a few options that seemed to be aimed at those watching their carb/sugar intake but the alcohol by volume (ABV) remained around 11-12%. Naturally, these options were lower in calories as the sugar had been removed after the fermentation process. Everything else I found claiming to be lower calorie was lower in alcohol ranging from very low options at 0.5%ABV to 9ABV%.


I have found in the past that the very low-alcohol wines tend to be a little too sweet and do not to have the dry crisp flavour that I'm always looking for. So for this test I decided to try wines with at least 8% ABV in hope I would find a balance of taste, calories and alcohol.


The Wine Taste Test

Now for the important part. We gathered five of the most popular 'low calorie' options together to do the all-important taste test to see if these are really worth buying. Read on below to find out more.


Calories: 86 per glass (125ml)
ABV: 11%

This is a zingy and dry crisp white wine with a full and acidic lingering flavour. It has notes of citrus and stone fruit. It would be ideally served with decadent dishes as its freshness would cut through anything rich. If you are a fan of New Zeland Sauvignon Blanc this could be one for you.



£14.99

Calories: 75 per glass (125ml)
ABV: 11%

I love sparkling wine and was pleasantly surprised by this one - some lower-calorie options are often too sweet but this is perfectly dry and refreshing. It has a light bright flavour with notes of pear. It's soft but lively making it an ideal summer party wine. And it's only 75 calories a glass due to its carb-free recipe.



£14.99

Calories: 75 per glass (125ml)
ABV: 9.5%

Lower in alcohol but intense with a sharp acidity - this wine is a full-flavoured all-rounder. Perfect tropical aromas followed by a dry finish make this wine a fabulous low-calorie/low-alcohol option. No compromise is needed with this one as it embodies the excellent flavours and aromas that you would expect from a good wine.



£8.50

Calories: 75 per glass (125ml)
ABV: 9%

Naturally 20% lower in alcohol than regular sauvignon blanc therefore lower in calories this is a very sophisticated choice. It has a passionfruit crispness but is refreshing and balanced in its acidity. A fabulous summer wine paired with Mediterranean dishes and seafood.


£9.99

Calories: 78 per glass (125ml)
ABV: 12.5%

This wine is made with zero residual sugar meaning it is naturally lower in calories but still has the same ABV % as a regular pinot grigio. It's a wonderful balance of light and floral aromas, honey sweetness and lemony tartness that makes it perfect for lazy summer days. Perfect to pop into your picnic basket and imagine you are in the Tuscan Hills.


Conclusion

Throughout our search, we discovered some exceptional low-calorie options that are perfect for those who are keeping an eye on both their calorie and alcohol intake. However, it's worth noting that good low-calorie wines tend to be pricier than their regular counterparts, so you may end up spending more money on them. Upon further investigation, I compared some of the wines I typically purchase with these lower-calorie alternatives and found that most regular wines were only about 5 calories higher (with an average of 80-84 calories per 125ml glass). The key factor to keep in mind is the amount you consume, so I simply measure out a smaller portion to enjoy my favourite wine while still sticking to my calorie and alcohol goals and most importantly my budget.

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