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Lowering your carb intake can be tough, and it can be even harder when you think that wine is off the table.
So, can you still drink wine when you’re watching your carb intake?
In short, yes - but the trick is knowing which type of wine to choose, as certain wines have a significantly higher amount of carbs than others.
Keep reading to learn more about low-carb wines, and to find out which wines are best if you’re on a low-carb, a keto diet, or you just want to make healthier changes.
Unfortunately, wine does have carbs - but not all wines have the same amount of carbs.
The amount of carbs in a bottle of wine depends entirely on the fermentation process, and how much sugar remains afterwards.
Wines that have a higher sugar content during production will likely have a higher amount of residual sugar and therefore a lower amount of carbs per glass.
Some brands will add more sugar to speed up fermentation, but this is typically done by brands that mass-produce cheaper wine. This is called chaptalization and is only legal in certain places.
Most vintners will avoid adding sugar and sweeteners, as this is likely to overpower the natural flavours of the wine.
Any fermented beverages begin by using a high-carb plant - in beer, it’s a grain, and in wine it’s grapes.
The winemaking process involves fermenting the naturally occurring sugars in grapes with yeast, which produces co2 (aka bubbles), heat, and of course the key ingredient alcohol
Little yeasts, for example, saccharomyces cerevisiae, consume the sugar in the grapes to produce alcohol.
However, some winemakers will stop this from happening to make the wine sweeter - more residual sugar results in a sweeter taste, and ultimately, a more likeable wine.
Sugar that hasn’t been fermented is called residual sugar and will remain in the wine and increase the number of carbohydrates per glass.
The amount of residual sugar depends entirely on the type of wine - dry wines have less than dessert wines.
Residual sugar is measured by how many grams are in the litre - g/l.
Different types of wines will have a different amount of grams of sugar per litre - sweet wines typically have more than 45 g/l, and dry wines will have less.
It’s very rare to find a wine that has less than 1g/l of residual sugar - not all sugar can be consumed by yeast, so there’s pretty much always going to be some residual sugar.
It can be difficult keeping track of your carb intake, and it’s even harder when labels aren’t clear.
With most foods, you can easily read calorie, carb, and sugar information on the labels - but unfortunately, this isn’t the case with some wines.
However, wine is still a better choice than other types of alcohol. One pint of beer can contain around 17 garbs, and a pina colada can contain as many as 43 carbs.
Spirits on their own are typically low in carbs but the mixer you choose can add a lot of unnecessary carbs.
Slimline gin and tonics contain around 7 carbs, but gin on its own contains zero.
Wines can contain as many as 20 carbs per glass and as little as 2, so it’s very important to know which wine to choose if you’re on a low carb diet.
Some wines have more carbs than others - it’s typically dark, rich wines that have high sugar content, and commercial wines with added fizz and flavours.
Fortified wine is a type of wine that has a higher level of alcohol.
More alcohol means a lower amount of yeast during the fermentation process, leaving more residual sugar, and ultimately, more carbs.
If you’re looking to lower your carb intake, it’s best to avoid wines such as Port, Sherry, and Madeira - a glass of any of these could cost you up to 20 carbs - which is almost half of your recommended allowance on keto.
Dessert wines are typically delicious and sweet and pair perfectly with puddings, but unfortunately, they’re no-go if you’re on a low-carb diet.
They’re sweet because they have a high amount of residual sugar, and can contain upwards of 5 carbs per glass.
You might also want to steer clear of ice wine or eiswein - it’s made from pressing frozen grapes, resulting in a sugary sweet wine that tastes great, but unfortunately is high in carbs.
Late harvest wine is another name you should look out for if you want to avoid high-carb wines.
With late harvest wine, the grapes used have spent longer on the vine, which makes the grapes sweeter and more sugary.
Although this can improve the taste of the wine, it also increases the g/l of residual sugar and the number of carbs, with some late harvest wines having more than 20 carbs per glass.
Thankfully, there are wines that are still a great choice if you’re lowing your carb intake, you’re on keto, or you want to lose weight/ maintain your figure.
Full-bodied reds tend to have more carbohydrates than white and sparkling wines.
If you really want a red wine, choose something more light-bodied such as Pinot Noir or Syrah.
These typically have between 2 and 3 carbs per glass, which isn’t much compared to the recommended 50 on keto.
Dry wines will often have fewer carbs than hearty reds.
One of the best choices is a Sauvignon Blanc, as they’re super dry and crisp - and the best part is that they only contain around 2 carbs per glass.
Another great choice is Pinot Grigio. This is popular for a reason - it’s a crisp, refreshing wine with a variety of fruity flavours, so you might be surprised to know it only contains around 3 grams of carbs per glass.
Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, and other sparkling wines also tend to have a low about of carbs, with only 2 grams per glass.
When browsing the shelves for sparkling wine, look for the terms ‘brut’, ‘brut nature’, and ‘extra brut’.
Brut means unsweetened and very dry, so these are the sparkling wines that are best if you’re on a low-carb diet.
Being mindful of what you’re eating and drinking is really important - especially if you’re on a low carb diet.
One glass of wine won’t do much, but a bottle or two can negatively impact your progress.
Many people can get too into dieting and calorie counting which can be dangerous - you still need carbs to give your body energy, and you may start to feel unwell if you cut out carbs completely.
Drinking red wine in moderation is good for your health according to some studies.
However, ‘in moderation’ generally means one glass of wine per week. Dessert wines and full-bodied wines taste great, but these should really be kept for special occasions as they’re full of sugar.