Carbs in Wine

Wine and grapes

While wine contains carbs like many grape derived products, your body processes them differently than non-alcohol containing beverages. If you count carbs, you may be surprised at just how many carbs there are in a glass of wine.

Understanding the Carbs in Wine

When most people think carbohydrates, they think of foods that are starchy or drinks high in sugar content. Wine actually contains no starch and very little residual sugar. The natural sugar that occurs in grapes is converted to alcohol during the fermentation process. There are not technically carbohydrates in wine, but what nutritionists and other scientific foodies like to call "carbohydrate equivalents." In fact, the USDA refers to the carbs found in wine as "Carbohydrate by difference." This means that carbohydrates are not detected in the food; they are what remain after fat and protein have been detected, accounted for and removed from the equation. These "carbohydrate equivalents" have to do with how the body metabolizes the drink.

  • Wine contains alcohol that is processed in liver.
  • Your liver converts the alcohol into acetate, which is a type of fuel the body can use like carbohydrates, fat or protein.
  • Your body burns the acetate first, before other fuels, turning it into energy before it ever gets a chance to turn into fat.

So while you may want to count carbs with each glass of wine you drink, keep in mind that these carbohydrate equivalents, particularly in red wine, may actually lower your blood sugar, rather than sending it into a spike. People with diabetes should continue to count the carbs in the wine as normal, because consuming too much may have an adverse effect on blood sugar levels.

Carbs in Red Wine

Here is a list of popular red wines and their carbohydrate count, as found at the USDA's National Nutrient Database:

Carbs in Red Wine
Wine Number of Ounces Number of Carbs
Cabernet Sauvignon 5 ounces 3.82 grams
Burgundy 5 ounces 5.46 grams
Pinot Noir 5 ounces 3.4 grams
Shiraz/Syrah 5 ounces 3.79 grams
Sangiovese 5 ounces 3.85 grams

As a general rule, the bigger bodied the wine, the higher the carb count. The lighter bodied the wine, the lower the carb count. Always check the label or call for nutritional information about any wine before consumption, if you are concerned about the carb counts.

Carbs in White Wine

The following is a short list of carbs in popular white wines, referenced from the USDA:

Carbs in White Wine
Wine Number of Ounces Number of Carbs
Chardonnay 5 ounces 3.18 grams
Sauvignon Blanc 5 ounces 3.01 grams
Champagne 4 - 5 ounces 1 gram
Riesling 5 ounces 5.54 grams
Pinot Grigio 5 ounces 3.03 grams

Enjoy in Moderation

While every glass of wine may contain some carbs, the jury is still out on exactly how those may affect you. Some red wines may lower your blood sugar, while drinking excessive amounts of wine may raise the blood sugar of some diabetics. If you count carbs for health reasons, remember that wine contains a moderate amount of carbs and as such, should be enjoyed in moderation.

Carbs in Wine