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Wine can be perfect for any occasion, whether you’re out with friends, drinking a glass with a delicious meal, or you’re simply unwinding after a day at work.
However, wine is great as a treat - and drinking it regularly can be bad for your health.
Depending on the type of wine and the brand, wine can be full of sugar and carbs, making it a bad choice if you’re lowering your sugar intake or if you’re on a keto diet.
Wine labels aren’t particularly helpful, and it can be difficult to know which wines to avoid and which wines contain the least carbs and sugar.
Keep reading to learn more about why wine contains carbs and sugar, and what terms to look out for when you’re looking for a low carb, low sugar wine.
Different wines have different amounts of sugar and carbs - it all comes down to the time that the grapes are picked from the vine and the fermentation process.
The winemaking process involves fermenting the naturally occurring sugars in grapes with yeast to create alcohol.
The little yeasts, known as saccharomyces cerevisiae, consume the natural sugars in the grapes to create heat, bubbles, and alcohol.
All fermented drinks will be fermented with a high carb plant - for example, with vodka, it’s usually potatoes, with beer its grain, and of course, with wine, it is grapes.
One of the reasons that some wines contain more sugar is because some vintners will add more sugar to the wine to speed up the fermentation process.
This is usually done by cheaper brands - but it’s illegal in some places.
Many winemakers will avoid adding extra sugar as it can ruin the quality of the wine and overpower the natural aromas, flavours, and textures.
All wines will contain a little sugar, as there’s always some sugar leftover from the fermentation process.
The leftover sugar is called residual sugar and can influence the number of carbs found in wine.
Different types of wine will contain different levels - for example, dessert wines will always contain a higher amount of carbs and sugar, whereas dry wines will contain less.
Residual sugar is measured by using g/l, which means grams of sugar per litre.
Pretty much all wines will have upwards of 1g/l, as not all sugar will be consumed by the yeast during fermentation.
If you’re trying to cut down on the amount of sugar you consume, the good news is that you can still enjoy a glass of wine - you just have to know what to look out for.
If you’re doing the keto diet, you shouldn’t be having more than 50g of carbs a day - and a standard glass of red wine contains between 2 and 5 carbs or 85 calories.
However, drinking a bottle is a different story and should be avoided, as it can cost you upwards of 15 carbs.
A small glass of wine every so often isn’t too bad for you - but it’s all about moderation and knowing what wines contain the least amount of carbs and sugar.
There are plenty of low carb and low sugar wine options out there, so keep reading to learn what to look out for.
Lowering your carb and sugar intake can be tough if you’re a wine lover, but it’s a lot easier you choose dry wines instead of richer reds or sugary commercial wines.
A typical glass of dry wine usually contains around 0.5 grams of sugar, which equals 2 grams of carbs.
This is a far better option than other types of alcohol - for example, a pina colada can contain over 40 carbs, and a pint of beer can contain 17 grams of carbs.
Dry white wine is a great option regardless of whether you’re being mindful of your carb and sugar intake.
The reason it’s so dry and crisp is because less sugar remains from the fermentation process.
One of the best dry wines is Sauvignon Blanc - it’s refreshing, crisp, and only contains 2 carbs per glass.
Semi-dry and off-dry wines are also a good choice - however, they’re generally a little sweeter than dry or brut wines, falling between dry and sweet.
Most off-dry or semi-dry wines contain between 10 and 30 g/l.
Pinot Grigio can also be considered a dry wine, depending on the brand.
This type of wine is refreshing with citrusy flavours, and the best part is that it only contains around 3 carbs per serving.
Sparkling wines surprisingly don’t contain much sugar, with most having less than 2% sugar.
If you’re a Champagne or Prosecco lover, look out for the terms ‘brut’, ‘brut nature’, ‘extra brut’, and ‘extra dry’.
Extra brut is the driest type of wine, which means that it contains less sugar.
Prosecco, Champagne, and Cava generally contain 2 or 3 carbs per glass, making them great options if you’re trying to follow a low carb diet.
If red wine is your go-to, then you’ll be glad to hear that there are some red wine varieties that have low amounts of sugar and carbs.
Pinot Noir and Shiraz are some of the most popular types of red wine, and only contain between 2 and 3 grams of carbs per glass.
Merlot is also a good choice if you’re after a bottle of red.
With red fruit flavours and medium body, Merlot is one of the more popular types of wine, and only contains around 2.5 grams of carbs per glass.
Wine labels can be difficult to understand, and they often don’t contain the most accurate nutritional information.
Wineries aren’t legally required to list the sugar levels in wine - but don’t worry as we’re about to tell you what to avoid when browsing the shelves for your favourite wine and you’re after a low sugar/ carb option.
Fortified wine can contain around 150 g/l of sugar which equates to 15%.
Wines such as Port, Sherry, or Marsala generally contain more alcohol, which means that less of the naturally occurring sugars in the grapes were consumed by yeast during the fermentation process.
Another term to look out for is ‘late harvest’. Late harvest wines have more sugar and carbs than other types and contain around 200 g/l of sugar.
The grapes in harvest wines have spent longer on the vine, which means that the grapes have more natural sugars, which explains why they’re usually very sweet.
Ice wine is popular amongst those who don’t usually drink wine - it’s a sweet wine and can pair perfectly with a variety of desserts.
This type of wine is made from pressing frozen grapes creating a refreshing and sweet taste - however, it can contain between 160 and 220 grams of sugar per litre.
Each wine contains different levels of sugar and carbs, but the general rule of thumb is that cheaper wines contain more sugar - with most bottles under £10 containing between 2 and 15 g/l of sugar.
This isn’t always the case - but if the label isn’t clear and you’re looking for a wine that’s low in sugar, it may be best to opt for a more expensive bottle of wine.