January 25, 2017
Today on CTV Morning Live as part of Wellness Wednesday, CTV’s Lianne Laing and Sommelier Matt Steeves discussed a topic that is top of mind for many these days, calories. In fact we focused on calories in wines, yes, I’m sorry to break it to you but there are calories in wines. Now many people may not think about how many calories they might be consuming when enjoying a few glasses of wine from time to time, but if you’ve got weight loss/management objectives that you’re working hard to achieve then being mindful of how many calories you’re consuming may just help you achieve your goals sooner.
Check out the video here: CTV Morning Live video – Calories in Wines
With the recent coming into force of the Ontario Healthy Menu Choices Act, most chain restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, etc., must now display calorie information on the food and beverages they sell. I’ll tell you it’s a bit of an eye opener when you see just how many calories are in that specialty coffee, muffin, deli sandwich, and don’t get me started on the snack and dessert foods! It’s mind boggling to see how many calories we can consume without realizing it, each and every day. So what I’m about to show you about wine is actually some of the best news of all…compared to many foods wine really isn’t all that bad.
Now, wines may not be as jam packed with calories as many foods are but they all have calories and if you’re looking to get beach ready you may want to know exactly what you’re enjoying each night in that glass of wine. Keep in mind that the number of calories in a glass of wine depends on how big that glass of wine is, the percentage of alcohol in the wine, and the sweetness of the wine, commonly known as residual sugar. A 4 oz glass of dry white wine will likely have under 100 calories , whereas a 6 oz glass of a 16% alcohol red wine may have twice the calories, and a fortified wine such as Port well, I’d rather not say how many calories it has as I love enjoying Port, but lets just say it’s a lot, just like a dessert.
Now even if enjoying a rather generous sized glass (+6oz) of wine that has nearly as many calories as a McDonald’s hamburger or small fries does (~240 calories in each the burger and fries), when you consider that one specialty drink from your favourite café may have as many as 500 calories, or that a bag of chips has roughly 1000 calories, perhaps it’s the creamy sweetened coffee and bags of chips we should be cutting out of our diets, not the wine!
As you can see, I’m not picking on wine, as everything out there (especially those things that taste good) has calories, and most seem to have more calories than wine too (thank goodness)! Just for comparison, the following foods/beverages have more calories than a 5oz glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from Canada or Bordeaux (France):
- 2 tablespoons of Nutella = 200 calories
- 1 cup of Special K cereal with ½ cup milk = 180 calories.
- 3 Lindt 90% dark chocolate squares = 180 calories
- 1 cup of yogurt = 190 calories.
- 1 12oz bottle of IPA beer = 200+ calories
- 1 small McDonalds French Fries = 230 calories
- 1 cup of frozen chocolate yogurt = 260 calories
- Starbucks White Hot Chocolate = 490 calories
- 1 McDonalds Big Mac = 530 calories
- 1 Large McDonalds French Fries = 560 calories
- 1 (180g) bag of Lays Dill Pickle chips = 972 calories; one serving (~1/4 bag) = 270 calories.
It’s clear, everything has calories, including wine, so let’s discuss how many per glass, for different wine styles.
Alcohol has ~7 calories per gram versus sugar that has ~4 calories per gram, this means the higher the alcohol content the more calories in your wine, generally. Sweet wines also include residual sugar so that’s additional calories beyond the calories from alcohol that you need to be mindful of. Here are some examples of wines and their typical calorie counts (per 6 oz pour (i.e. ¼ bottle)):
- Low alcohol white wines, like a dry (not sweet) low-alcohol Canadian or German Riesling or dry Pinot Grigio – 110+ calories.
- Merlot or Syrah from Oakanagan, BC (14+% alcohol) – 160+ calories
- Cabernet Sauvignon from California (14.5+%) – 175 calories
- ‘Sweet’ Red Wines from California (Apothic Red, etc.) – approaching +200 calories
- Amarone from Italy (~16%) – 190 calories
- Port – +300 calories, however, a 2 oz pour would be +100 calories
So, unlike snack food and super sized portions of fast food, the amount of calories in a glass of wine is nothing to be too concerned about (provided you’re sharing that bottle with a couple people), but being aware of the number of calories in your glass of wine is always a good thing to know as each glass adds up. Keep in mind that one 750 ml bottle of wine contains 6 – 4oz glasses, 5 – 5oz glasses, or 4 – 6oz glasses. My preference is to pour smaller (4 oz) glasses especially for white wines as that allows the wine to be served at the proper temperature without warming up too much while you’re enjoying it. Also, another tip I recommend is to enjoy a glass of water (my preference is sparkling water) between every glass of wine to keep you refreshed and hydrated. It also helps keep your palate fresh so you can enjoy every glass of wine just like the first sip.
Super Low to Low Calorie Wines (note that Canadian wines are great choices for low calorie options given the relatively cool climate wine regions we have which result in tasty and typically low-alcohol wines being produced from coast to coast) :
Vinyasa White Wine, Niagara – $13.95 (dry white, 9.5% alcohol) – 4 oz pour ~ 70 calories (super low cal);
Benjamin Bridge Methode Classique Rose (sparkling wine), Nova Scotia – $44.95 (dry bubbly, 11.5% alcohol). 4 oz pour ~90 calories (I’ll have the bubbly over a cookie any day!!!)
13th Street Riesling 2012, Niagara – $23.95 (dry white, 12.0% alcohol)
Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2014, Niagara – $19.95 (dry red, 12.3% alcohol)
Rosewood Merlot 2013, Niagara – $21.95 (dry red, 13% alcohol)
Moderate Calorie Wines (~150 to 175+ calories per 6 oz glass):
Church & State Chardonnay 2012, Okanagan – $27.95 (dry white, 14.2%)
Ravenswood Besieged, Sonoma (California) – $24.95 (dry red, 14.5%)
Painted Rock Merlot 2013, Okanagan – $40 (dry red, 14.8%)
Laughing Stock Portfolio 2014, Okanagan – $45 (dry red, 14.9%)
Tenuta Olim Bauda Barbera D’Asti 2012, Italy – $28 (dry red, 15%)
High Calorie Wines (>200 calories per glass):
Chateau des Charmes Late Harvest Riesling 2007, Niagara – $22.15 (dessert wine, 107g/L residual sugar, 10.5% alcohol) – 4 oz pour ~ 150 calories);
Chateau d’Arche (Sauternes) 2003, France – $30 (dessert wine, 135 g/L residual sugar, 14% alcohol) – 4 oz pour ~ +200 calories
Spirits: A 1.5 oz shot of a 40% alcohol spirit (such as Vodka, Gin, Rum) has ~96 calories. So while a vodka soda mixed drink only has 96 calories, a 3 oz martini with vermouth and gin has nearly 200 calories in that little (3oz) cocktail. Super-size that martini, as many restaunts offer, and you’re now pushing 250 calories. Add simple syrup and fruit juice to a cocktail and the calories add up even quicker.
Brace yourself for this…if you enjoy a 6oz Pina Colada while you’re travelling down south well that’s a massive 644 calories! Have four of those during your afternoon in the pool and well you can do the math…
Below is a neat infographic showing rough estimates of the number of calories per glass for certain wine styles.
And another great infographic care of Wine Folly on what’s inside your bottle of wine:
As noted above, dry white wine with a relatively low alcohol percentage can have roughly 460 calories per bottle meaning a 4oz glass would have roughly 76 calories only. At the other end of the calorie scale, a sweet fortified wine such as Port, has 1440 calories per bottle meaning a 4oz glass would have as many as 240 calories, or 300% more than the dry white wine. Good to be aware of these extremes, or maybe this is a great example of when ignorance is bliss.
Summary: Being mindful of the number of calories in the styles of wine you enjoyis a good idea, especially if you’re working hard to achieve/maintain weight loss or fitness goals. My recommendation, consider the size of the glass you’re enjoying (4 oz, 5oz, 6oz) and try having a glass of sparkling water in between each glass of wine to keep you refreshed, hydrated, and minimize the calories you’re consuming.