Low Calorie Wine Options

Karen Frazier
Wine and healthy food

If you are lowering your calorie intake, don't pass on a night out with a friend when there are low-calorie wine options available. These wines will allow you to indulge without worrying about a ton of extra calories and without sacrificing taste.

Low-Calorie Wine Brands

Several wine makers have experimented with making lower calorie wines and marketing them as such. They harvest grapes when they are less mature so that they contain less sugar, which ultimately translates into a lower alcohol content and less residual sugar. These wine makers have also found that using grapes from cooler regions will result in a lower alcohol content.

  • Fit Vine specializes in low-sugar wines, which keeps the calories down. Wines have around 100 calories per five ounce pour.
  • So' Light wines have lower alcohol content than other wines, making them lower in calories at about 65 calories per glass.
  • Cense Wines has partnered with Weight Watchers to create a wine that fits within the Weight Watchers SmartPoints system. Each 5-ounce glass has around 85 calories or 3 Weight Watchers SmartPoints.

Calories in Red Wine

On average, a 5-ounce glass of dry red wine contains about 120 calories. Wines with higher sugar content or higher alcohol content tend to be higher in calories (alcohol has 7 calories per gram, sugar has 4 calories per gram). The drier the wine, the fewer calories it usually contains. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon is a relatively low-calorie red wine, while a slightly sweeter Chianti may contain a few more calories per glass. Some lower calorie reds include the following.

  • Merlot - 118 calories
  • Cabernet Sauvignon - 119 calories
  • Burgundy/Pinot Noir - 122 calories
  • Bordeaux - 118 calories

Higher alcohol wines, such as Zinfandel, have higher calorie counts. An average 5-ounce glass of Zinfandel, for example, has about 131 calories per glass. Red wine also offers many health benefits. It contains antioxidants, and studies have shown that it can help to prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. There has been a lot of buzz about resveratrol, which researchers at the Mayo Clinic have proven has heart-healthy benefits.

Calories in White, Sparkling, and Rosé Wine

The calories in dry white wine are similar to those in red, but slightly lower, and rosé wines or blush wines tend to be relatively low in calories unless it's an off-dry or sweet rosé. A five ounce glass of white wine typically contains around 116 calories while a 5-ounce glass of rosé has around 105. Lighter, very dry white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc may contain even fewer, while Riesling, which is often sweet, may contain more. For comparison, Champagne contains around 124 calories per five ounce glass. Some low calorie whites to consider follow. Calories are for a 5-ounce pour.

Low-Calorie Wine Tips

While buying a wine marketed as "low-calorie" may take out some of the guess work, they aren't easy to find in restaurants, bars or your local liquor store. Instead, follow these strategies to choose the right type of wine, and drink smart to avoid taking in too many calories.

Opt for Dry, Low-Sugar Wines

Sugar concentration in the wine accounts for many of the wine's calories. Therefore, you want to take steps to select low-sugar options.

  • Avoid most wine coolers since they usually contain added sugar and are higher in calories.
  • Dessert wines, sweet wines, late harvest wines, and ice wines are all higher in calories because of their higher sugar content, so these are best limited or avoided when cutting calories.
  • Choose extra-brut sparkling wine, which is the driest version of the wine.
  • If you're a Riesling fan, choose dry Riesling (in Germany, this style is called kabinett), which will have fewer sugar calories.
  • Avoid wines with terms that indicate higher sugar content, such as demi-sec, off-dry, doux, amabile, passito, dolce, vin santo, semisecco, halbtrocken, auslese, spätlese, and medium-dry.
  • Avoid wines such as Moscato d'Asti, Muscat Canelli, Moscato, Vouvray, Muscadine, Sauternes, Barsac, Tokaji, and eiswein. These are all sweet wines that are high in sugar and thus higher in calories.
  • Fruit wines also tend to be higher in sugar to maintain some of the sweetness of the fruit and are therefore higher in calories.

Keep an Eye on Alcohol Content

Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, so higher alcohol wines are higher in calories.

  • Steer clear of fortified wines such as Port or Sherry. These wines tend to have higher alcohol content due to fortification, and they may also have higher sugar content.
  • High alcohol wines include Shiraz and Zinfandel. Look for the alcohol by volume (ABV) listed on the label and choose those with ABV of 15% or lower.

Manage Wine Portions

As in other forms of calorie counting, portion control can help you keep calories low. The average pour of a glass of wine is about five ounces. If you're wine tasting, a tasting pour is about 3 ounces.

Wine spritzer with a twist
  • Drink from small wine glasses. You will be likely to pour and consume less wine than you would from a large glass.
  • Make a wine spritzer by filling a glass half full with wine and half club soda over ice. You'll cut the calories in half!
  • Limit yourself to one glass of wine with a meal. If you are out with friends, alternate a glass of wine with a glass of water to stay hydrated and lower your intake.

When in Doubt, Do More Research

Don't be afraid to ask. You can contact the winemaker directly or, if you're in a wine shop, ask the proprietor for some great low-calorie options.

Enjoy Without the Guilt

If you are counting calories and still want an occasional glass of wine, consider one that is lower in calories. You can also reduce the portion size so you still enjoy one of your favorites but without all the calories.

Low Calorie Wine Options